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The Maestro… If you wanted to reflect the pure concept of passion in music, that would be Astor Piazzolla's music

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992) was a composer and bandoneón player who revolutionized tango music. In 1924 Piazzolla's family moved from Buenos Aires to New York City - Astor was only three years old. They stayed there, with a brief interlude, until 1936. He listened to Cab Calloway in Harlem. Later, again in Buenos Aires, he played traditional tango on his bandoneón in Aníbal Troilo's orchestra. In 1940 he composed a piece for Arthur Rubinstein who was in Buenos Aires on a tour. Rubinstein recognized Piazzolla's talent and told him to take lessons in composing with Alberto Ginastera - and that is what he did. With Ginastera he listened a lot to Bartók and Stravinsky. In 1944 Piazzolla left Troilo - the tango scene considered this to be ingratitude and treason - but the 25-year old went his own way and created his own group. He introduced counterpoints, fugues and new harmonies into tango music. But it took Piazzolla up to the 1980s to become recognized in his homeland of Argentina. I had the chance to see him towards the end of his life in a memorable concert at Geneva's Victoria Hall. He suffered a brain haemorrhage in Paris which he never recovered from and he died in Bueno Aires in 1992.
Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992) was a composer and bandoneón player who revolutionized tango music. In 1924 Piazzolla's family moved from Buenos Aires to New York City - Astor was only three years old. They stayed there, with a brief interlude, until 1936. He listened to Cab Calloway in Harlem. Later, again in Buenos Aires, he played traditional tango on his bandoneón in Aníbal Troilo's orchestra. In 1940 he composed a piece for Arthur Rubinstein who was in Buenos Aires on a tour. Rubinstein recognized Piazzolla's talent and told him to take lessons in composing with Alberto Ginastera - and that is what he did. With Ginastera he listened a lot to Bartók and Stravinsky. In 1944 Piazzolla left Troilo - the tango scene considered this to be ingratitude and treason - but the 25-year old went his own way and created his own group. He introduced counterpoints, fugues and new harmonies into tango music. But it took Piazzolla up to the 1980s to become recognized in his homeland of Argentina. I had the chance to see him towards the end of his life in a memorable concert at Geneva's Victoria Hall. He suffered a brain haemorrhage in Paris which he never recovered from and he died in Bueno Aires in 1992.
La Camarro is an album recorded in 1988 in New York City - by the way, a camorra is a quarrel. Soledad is a harmonious, tonal ballad. La Camorra I is more like a traditional tango. La Fugata is some sort of chamber music. Sur: Los Suenõs and Sur: Regreso Al Amor are emotional, passionate compositions. The CD Tango: Zero Hour is more radical. It is an album which challenges traditional listening habits. This is no dancing music like traditional tango, no easy listening music, but as Piazzolla put it himself: This is "... the greatest record I've made in my entire life. We gave our souls to [it]. This is the record I can give to my grandchildren an say, 'This is what we did with our lives'." La Hora Zero was recorded in New York City in 1986 with Piazzolla's famous New Tango Quintet. Tango: Zero Hour is still avant-garde, as its title says, a reinvention of a music as if it had not existed before.
La Camarro is an album recorded in 1988 in New York City - by the way, a camorra is a quarrel. Soledad is a harmonious, tonal ballad. La Camorra I is more like a traditional tango. La Fugata is some sort of chamber music. Sur: Los Suenõs and Sur: Regreso Al Amor are emotional, passionate compositions. The CD Tango: Zero Hour is more radical. It is an album which challenges traditional listening habits. This is no dancing music like traditional tango, no easy listening music, but as Piazzolla put it himself: This is "... the greatest record I've made in my entire life. We gave our souls to [it]. This is the record I can give to my grandchildren an say, 'This is what we did with our lives'." La Hora Zero was recorded in New York City in 1986 with Piazzolla's famous New Tango Quintet. Tango: Zero Hour is still avant-garde, as its title says, a reinvention of a music as if it had not existed before.
La Camarro is an album recorded in 1988 in New York City - by the way, a camorra is a quarrel. Soledad is a harmonious, tonal ballad. La Camorra I is more like a traditional tango. La Fugata is some sort of chamber music. Sur: Los Suenõs and Sur: Regreso Al Amor are emotional, passionate compositions. The CD Tango: Zero Hour is more radical. It is an album which challenges traditional listening habits. This is no dancing music like traditional tango, no easy listening music, but as Piazzolla put it himself: This is "... the greatest record I've made in my entire life. We gave our souls to [it]. This is the record I can give to my grandchildren an say, 'This is what we did with our lives'." La Hora Zero was recorded in New York City in 1986 with Piazzolla's famous New Tango Quintet. Tango: Zero Hour is still avant-garde, as its title says, a reinvention of a music as if it had not existed before.

Friday, May 07, 2004

For all I knew about the music of the world - and that was considerable - somehow the best had been saved for me. Argentine Tango was a total surprise when I encountered it in December, 1989.

The very fine Argentine bandoneonist Roberto Pansera fronted an orchestra playing the real tango while a great Copes troupe danced a show called "A Rose For Mr. Tango." It played in my town for five months, and after that first night - when my life changed - I was there nearly every night to see it.

Astor Piazzolla. ...

Going on from there is a bit daunting.

After you say his name, you almost have to be very brave to continue.

Well, he was, so ...



Here I want to forget about controversy, personalities, disputes. I want to talk about music and about a very special creator of music.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

La Camarro is an album recorded in 1988 in New York City - by the way, a camorra is a quarrel. Soledad is a harmonious, tonal ballad. La Camorra I is more like a traditional tango. La Fugata is some sort of chamber music. Sur: Los Suenõs and Sur: Regreso Al Amor are emotional, passionate compositions. The CD Tango: Zero Hour is more radical. It is an album which challenges traditional listening habits. This is no dancing music like traditional tango, no easy listening music, but as Piazzolla put it himself: This is "... the greatest record I've made in my entire life. We gave our souls to [it]. This is the record I can give to my grandchildren an say, 'This is what we did with our lives'." La Hora Zero was recorded in New York City in 1986 with Piazzolla's famous New Tango Quintet. Tango: Zero Hour is still avant-garde, as its title says, a reinvention of a music as if it had not existed before.
Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992) was a composer and bandoneón player who revolutionized tango music. In 1924 Piazzolla's family moved from Buenos Aires to New York City - Astor was only three years old. They stayed there, with a brief interlude, until 1936. He listened to Cab Calloway in Harlem. Later, again in Buenos Aires, he played traditional tango on his bandoneón in Aníbal Troilo's orchestra. In 1940 he composed a piece for Arthur Rubinstein who was in Buenos Aires on a tour. Rubinstein recognized Piazzolla's talent and told him to take lessons in composing with Alberto Ginastera - and that is what he did. With Ginastera he listened a lot to Bartók and Stravinsky. In 1944 Piazzolla left Troilo - the tango scene considered this to be ingratitude and treason - but the 25-year old went his own way and created his own group. He introduced counterpoints, fugues and new harmonies into tango music. But it took Piazzolla up to the 1980s to become recognized in his homeland of Argentina. I had the chance to see him towards the end of his life in a memorable concert at Geneva's Victoria Hall. He suffered a brain haemorrhage in Paris which he never recovered from and he died in Bueno Aires in 1992.
Astor Piazzolla has many facets and these facets are the mosaic stones that make up the big picture. Astor was a revolutionary and had something to offer everyone. He had excellent credentials as a tanguero and this he proved in the time that he was living in Buenos Aires prior to the 50's and playing in the band of Anibal Troilo or later with his own band. He had absorbed jazz in the time that he lived in New York City. But as he was playing tango in Buenos Aires, he became aware that his music had to be different than the others. Anibal Troilo told him on a number of occasions that his arrangements were too complicated to be played by his musicians. So he decided to be active within the domain of classical music and left tango.
Astor Piazzolla has left an extraordinary treasure of music : instrumental tangos, tango songs, film music, pieces for guitar or flute, chamber and orchestral music.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Title: Agri Saluda a Piazzolla
Tracks: Variaciones sobre Adios Nonino (Agri)
Los pajaros perdidos (Piazzolla/Trejo)
Marron y azul
Nonino
Fuga y misterio
Preparense
Oblivion
Años de soledad
Rio Sena
Lo que vendra
Preparense
Oblivion
S.P. de nada (Agri)
All compositions by Astor Piazzolla except where noted.

Group: Agri, Antonio
Musicians: Agri (Antonio) - violin
Rios (Walter) - bandoneon
Dominguez (Ricardo) - guitar
Cirigliano (Juan Carlos) - piano (tracks 6 12)
Nebbia (Litto) - keyboards (tracks 2 7 8)
Label: Melopea
Country: Argentina
Catalog number: CDMSE 5111
Media: CD
Year of release: 1997
Studio or Live: Studio
Year of performance: 1997
Description:
Style: Tango and New Tango Groups
Comments: Melopea label can be contacted at melopea@datamarkets.com.ar
Historia del Tango Vol. 1

Tracks: El choclo (Villoldo)
Ojos negros (Greco/Porteño)
La Cumparsita (Matos Rodriguez)
La cachila (Arolas)
La maleva (Buglione/Pardo)
Mi noche triste (Castriota/Contursi)
Sentimiento gaucho (Canaro/Caruso)
Nunca tuvo novio (Bardi/Cadicamo)
Entre sueños (Aieta/Polito/Garcia Gimenez)
Quejas de bandoneon (de Dios Filiberto)
Alma de bohemio (Caruso/Firpo)
A media luz (Donato/Lenzi)
All compositions by Astor Piazzolla except where noted.

Group: Piazzolla, Astor
Musicians: Manzi (Osvaldo) - piano
Agri (Antonio) - violin
Lopez Ruiz (Oscar) - guitar
Diaz (Kicho) - bass
Piazzolla (Astor) - bandoneon and arrangements
Orchestra of 12 violins - 4 cellos - 4 violas - vibes- xilophone - bells - voice.
Label: Polydor
Country: USA
Catalog number: 314 511 638-2
Media: CD
Year of release: 1994
Studio or Live: Studio
Year of performance: 1966
Description: This and its companion CD belong here stylistically but were actually recorded and issued years later. Recorded and released in 1966 by Polydor-Argentina. Even though Piazzolla was working with the quintet by then, these recordings feature Piazzolla with a string orchestra recreating many of the traditional tangos he played 20 years earlier (now with a better sound quality). The musicians credits are from the original LPs (thanks Mitsumasa).
Style: The 'Traditional' Piazzolla (1940-1955)
Comments:
- La Guardia Vieja

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Piazzolla: "¿Yo que toco, lambada?"

"Tóquese un tango, maestro", le gritaban. ¿Y yo que toco, lambada?". En los años 80 ya las cosas habían bajado de tenor: la discusión se limitaba al humor y en todo caso a la indiferencia. Pero no pasó lo mismo en los años '60: Piazzolla debió salir a defender a golpes de puño su música, avasallada por las fuertes críticas del ámbito del tango.

"Tuve que defenderme, pelear, discutir, pero también confieso que me divertí. Sin darse cuenta me ayudaron a forjar la fama de Astor Piazzolla", diría el músico años después. La controversia iba a propósito de si su música era tango o no, a tal punto que Astor tuvo que llamarla "música contemporánea de la ciudad de Buenos Aires". Lo más insólito es que mientras esta discusión acaparaba la atención, el tango perdía oyentes, bailarines y público a raudales y las orquestas debían achicarse o desaparecer.

Pero no era sólo eso: Astor provocaba a todos con su vestimenta informal, con su pose para tocar el bandoneón (actuaba de pie, frente a la tradición de ceñirse al fueye sentado, como Troilo). Sus declaraciones sonaban a reto. A comienzos de los años '60, Piazzolla aseguraba que Mariano Mores era una copia fiel de Francisco Canaro y cuando le preguntaban por la orquesta de Alfredo De Angelis, manifestaba: "¿No pueden estudiar y tocar algo mejor?".

Es que justamente Astor llegó adonde el tango no llegó. No sólo por su música: el público que captó el Quinteto estuvo integrado por universitarios, jóvenes y el sector intelectual, si bien estaba lejos de ser masivo. Ya tenía fama de duro y bravo, de peleador, estaba en pleno período creativo y se rodeó de los mejores músicos: Elvino Vardaro, Antonio Agri, Osvaldo Manzi, Kicho Díaz.

Excepto una solitaria vuelta al Octeto, la formación de la primera parte de los '60 fue, básicamente, el quinteto. De la mano de Adiós, Nonino, Decarísimo -dedicado a Julio De Caro, con quien había mutua admiración- y Muerte del ángel comenzó a elaborar un camino que tendría picos en su concierto de Philarmonic Hall de New York, su álbum con Jorge Luis Borges y Edmundo Rivero, el trabajo con Alfredo Alcón y Ernesto Sabato, el reigistro con el Polaco Goyeneche.

Sobre el filo de la década de los '60 protagonizó un dúo con Horacio Ferrer -prueba de ello son los temas Bicicleta blanca, Balada para mi muerte y Balada para un loco- más la cantante Amelita Baltar corporizando las canciones en placas y en vivo -incluso en el violento Primer Festival de la Canción de Buenos Aires-, pareja de Astor por aquellos años, a quien consideraba una gran voz.

Tiempo después daría otra prueba de su humor: "Como yo estaba en pleno metejón con Amelita Baltar no me daba cuenta de la voz que tenía. Dicen que el amor es ciego, y en este caso, también sordo".
Astor Piazzolla: El largo trayecto de un músico que cambió el modo de entender el tango

La leyenda data de 1954 y cuenta que fue Nadia Boulanger -discípula de Ravel- la responsable de todo: "Este es el Piazzolla que me interesa. No lo abandone nunca", exclamó en París la maestra de Astor al escucharlo tocar Triunfal. Y finalmente Piazzolla se fue volcando por el tango.

Hasta ahí su carrera oscilaba entre su participación en la orquesta de Aníbal Troilo -de la que se fue a los 23 años acusado de hereje- y de la Sinfonía Buenos Aires. Iba de su propia agrupación tanguística, la orquesta del 46, de acompañar al Tano Fiore y de su amor por Bartok y Bach. Los dos mundos por igual le depararon polémica a un joven combativo Astor que empezaba a mostrar el filo de su poderoso lenguaje musical.

En una Buenos Aires moldeada por poetas, donde los anuncios de los shows de tango poblaban la doble página central de los diarios, las orquestas tenían hinchada, el rock aún no había explotado y Charly apenas gateaba; la presencia de Astor generó de entrada resquemores, envidia y admiración entre la comunidad tanguera.

Pero es recién en 1955 cuando explota todo su aprendizaje: las fugas, los contrapuntos, los elementos aprenhendidos del universo clásico. Nutrido de un potencial que ya se plasma en los tangos, Astor forma el Octeto Buenos Aires. El seleccionado de músicos -en un experiencia similar a la jazzística norteamericana de Gerry Mulligan- escogidos por Astor termina por delinear arreglos atrevidos y timbres poco habituales para el tango: la guitarra eléctrica de Horacio Malvicino es toda una novedad.

Astor Pantaleón Piazzolla, nacido el 11 de marzo de 1921, con una infancia entre Mar del Plata y New York -más en la segunda ciudad que en la primera-, con la mística de su encuentro norteamericano con Carlos Gardel -participó en el film El día que me quieras-, con su ácido humor borgeano a flor de piel, obsesivamente estudioso, comenzó a revolucionar el tango. "Nos obligó a estudiar a todos de vuelta", sintetizó Osvaldo Pugliese.

Monday, May 03, 2004

2000.3.13
Tango Nuevo Master Class given by Piazzolla's Pianist Pablo Ziegler.

2000.3.13
Academic Paper on Piazzolla Presented (English / Spanish) by Carlos Kuri.

2000.3.11
Press release announcing Piazzolla Plaque installed in New York City. See the Plaque Installation, Piazzolla's Childhood home and first-time world meeting of Piazzolla fans.

2000.3.10
1st United States Academic Symposium on Piazzolla conducted at the City University of New York (CUNY)
2001.9.1
Amadeus Press announces the upcoming release of "Astor Piazzolla - A Memoir", English translation of the book by Natalio Gorin.
2001.3.15
Gardel FM Piazzolla Radio special with appearance by Piazzolla.org staffers

2001.3.11
Piazzolla's 80th Anniversary celebrations in Buenos Aires.

2000.10.14 - 2000.11.26
Pablo Ziegler (Piazzolla's Pianist) offers free concert series in Argentina.

2000.3.21
Piazzolla's "The Rough Dancer and the Cyclical Night" re-released by Nonesuch Records.
Nice pictures:



Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992)


An Argentine who spent most of his early years in New York before returning to Buenos Aires, Astor Piazzolla is recognized the world over as the modern Maestro of the tango, a position which did not come without its share of controversy in his native country.
A virtuoso bandoneón player, Piazzolla made his mark in the thirties and forties as a tanguero in the band of Anibal Troilo, and then as the central figure in his own band. As his pieces grew increasingly more complex, he turned to classical music, and in 1954, he was granted a scholarship to study music in Paris under the legendary Nadia Boulanger. There, he realized that his destiny was not to abandon tango, but to infuse it with classical and jazz influences. During the latter half of his career he virtually resurrected and reinvigorated the tango, creating a series of emotionally complex works, experimental tango operas, and song cycles that looked back to the mythic Buenos Aires of his literary favorite, Jorge Luis Borges. Although much of his work was at first quite controversial in Argentina, today the music of Piazzolla has a world-wide following, and has attracted the attention and support of such artists as Gidon Kremer, the Kronos Quartet, and Yo-Yo Ma.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

An Article about the Netherland's
Royal Wedding Tango Performer :
Carel Kraayenhof



Source: De Telegraaf, 5 February 2002 (The Netherlands)

Maxima told bandoneon player Carel Kraayenhof: "I adore the tango and Piazzolla"

AMSTERDAM - It is as if the 43-year old bandoneon player Carel Kraayenhof, whose tango Adiós Nonino (Farewell Father) touched princess Maxima so deeply that she could not hide her tears, has won the Oscar in Hollywood or Gold in the Olympic Games. The telephone rings non-stop in his house in Midden-Beemster, Holland. Congratulations and faxes are pouring in and thousands of Dutch people has already tried to find full details of his group Sexteto Canyengue on his web site following his performance in the New Church.

His house is packed with flowers and until deep into the night he and his wife Thirza, who is also his manager, sat behind their computer chatting with the tens, no hundreds, of fans that Carel Kraayenhof has gained with this single performance. The four minutes in which he played Maxima's personal selection Adiós Nonino had such an impact that besides the wedding dress and the balcony scene the tango at once became the most talked about element of the wedding ceremony.

And that makes Carel and his wife Thirza intensely happy these days, because the tango and the bandoneon are their life. The talk about it with passion. Two driven, passionate people who are obsessed with this music, who sometimes had to make huge offers for it.

But now there is this triumph, following which the tango is suddenly conquering the Netherlands. They remain calm under the new situation - especially because they have been through so much on their way to this top. At least they try to, since a somewhat emotional Carel told me yesterday that the night after the performance he received an email from no other than the legendary Argentinean guitarist Oscar Lopez Ruiz, who for many years worked with Carel's idol the late Astor Piazzolla. He wrote to Carel: "I would like to congratulate you on your performance of Adiós Nonino. There a few Argentinean bandoneon players who can play this music like you did." Carel: "And that from a man who has got the tango in his blood and is at the absolute top in this field." And Carel's wife Thirza adds: "We also received an email from the widow of Osvaldo Pugliese, the world's greatest tango pianist, who said she had enjoyed Carel's play and was deeply touched that he had honoured the Argentinean tango so much during the wedding ceremony." Carel Kraayenhof says: "Their compliments mean a lot to me." For him these congratulations are, to remain with the wedding jargon, clearly his crowning glory.

What is the secret of the tango for you? I ask him. Carel says without hesitation: "The tango is the soul of an entire people. In the tango beats the heart of a country. The tango links everyone, from high to low, with each other. The tangos' lyrics are very philosophical and it is remarkable that intelligence and folk music are combined in such a special way, which is rare. The music in universal."

His passion for the tango is not only shared by his wife Thirza but also by princess Maxima. Carel says: "I found it very special that during busy schedule of her introduction tour through Holland she took the time and effort to visit me and my wife at home to discuss the music I would be playing at her wedding."

"She told me that she adores the tango and the music of Astor Piazzolla. It is music that surrounds you from cradle to grave in Argentina and includes Maxima." Kraayenhof says: "There was nothing staged about the emotions she expressed, as has been suggested. They were spontaneous, it touched her soul."

This happened around the world with millions of television viewers, as illustrated by the foreign press. The Sunday Times praised Kraayenhof's performance and other called it a highlight of the service. Kraayenhof was impressed by Maxima's personality as she spoke long and passionately with him and his wife about the tango, her fatherland and her feelings about Holland. Since he played in New Church almost everyone in Holland knows Carel Kraayenhof's name and certainly so if you say he was the man on the bandoneon. He has worked hard for today's success, as illustrated by the fact that some seventeen years ago he played on the streets to pay for his philosophy studies. A study, however, he abandoned shortly after. He was a poor but already music obsessed student. "I began to play on a harmonica," he said. "One day I was playing it in the Vondel park when my brother Jaap, who plays the violin and guitar, told me: why don't you take up the bandoneon? You can make wonderful music on it!" I told him that instrument had been at the top of my wish list for years, but where do I get one?" Jaap's words stayed with Carel. He loved those melancholy sounds that touch you to the core. "But first I bought a concertina, which is also used in Scottish and English folk music. However, an Argentinean friend I had met in Amsterdam offered to bring back a bandoneon from Buenos Aires. They are not on sale here. I really taught myself to play the 80-year old instrument he brought me. That was hard but always great fun."

"I also played it on the streets. At one time when I played outside the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam I was sent away by the police because I made too much noise. I have never understood that," he says with a smile. "Because there were also numerous motor cycles."

It did not diminish Carel's love for the instrument. In tango he could combine his love for philosophy and music in a very special way. Around that time together with singer Juan Tajes from Urugay he set up the group Tango Quatro. That was in 1985. Shortly afterwards the most important man in tango was to enter Carel's life: the late Astor Piazzolla. Carel says: "He was brought to Holland by the Argentinean Luis Aravena, who lived here. She phoned me one day and said: could you please come to Piazzolla's hotel? The bandoneon he is supposed to play this evening is faulty."

At that time Carel was the only bandoneon player in the Netherlands. Luis thought he might be able to save that evening's concert by Piazzolla by lending him his instrument. Carel says: "In his hotel room I was introduced to Piazzolla. He looked at my instrument and asked me in a very friendly way to play something on it. No, I wasn't really nervous at that time. I never have that with Argentineans, who always put me at ease. I played two tangos for the king of tango. He listened intently and then said: I assume you must have been to Buenos Aires? He loved it. That's right, I said. For Dutch television I had made a trip to Buenos Aires to report on the local music scene. Fortunately by then someone had repaired Piazzolla's bandoneon. Nevertheless that first meeting with Piazzolla was to have huge consequences, for before I left he said to me: 'I'll be in touch. I will invite you to come and play.' He promised he would provide me with work." The prospect excited Carel. "But I also thought he would probably forget. Was it just a kind remark because I had tried to help him out? However, his guitarist - the famous Oscar Jopez Ruiz - said to me at the time: 'Piazolla never says something like that unless he means it."

However, Carel - who was living in a commune in Amsterdam at the time - was flabbergasted when a flatmate called him over three months later and said:

"There's a guy called Piazzolla on the phone for you."

"It was him alright. He told me: 'In New York one of my quintets is currently accompanying a musical on the life of the author Luis Borges. The musical was called Tango Passionado and I would like you to join the show playing the bandoneon. Okay?' Of course, I said. A few days later I was on my way to New York, where I spent several months with that musical. That was a unique experience."

Carel Kraayenhof had entered the world of his idol Piazzolla in a spectacular fashion. "A very special man who worked night and day," according to Carel. "He only slept for four hours a night and often spent hours roaming the streets of wherever he was at night. He lived life to the full."

Later on Carel was also invited to Piazzolla's holiday home at Rio del Plata. "I discovered he took great interest in sharks and wrote a tango for him, Tiboronero." It was Carel's last visit to the tango master who died in 1992, now ten years ago. However, his music lives on. Carel's performance at the wedding can be seen as a tribute to Piazzolla who introduce a wide audience to the tango, an ambition Carel shares and with his television performance has certainly achieved. He has followed in his idol's footsteps.

With his current band he has toured Argentina with enormous success for Carel, who is already nicknamed the Dutch Piazzolla.
"Astor Piazzolla, A Memoir"

Astor Piazzolla, brilliant, iconoclastic tango musician and composer, has become a national hero in Argentina and a cult figure for classical and jazz lovers worldwide, but only after a lifetime of controversy and struggle. His only crime was to revitalize, if not revolutionize, tango—to hear in the music possibilities that others couldn’t, or wouldn’t, imagine. He dared to compose tangos that were not for dancing, tangos of such melodic and rhythmic complexity that both worlds, classical and popular, would ultimately claim him as their own.

The outspoken, headstrong Piazzolla told his story to journalist and longtime fan Natalio Gorin in the spring of 1990 in a series of frank interviews. Less than four months later Piazzolla was silenced by a stroke, and Gorin completed the work himself, bringing out the first Spanish edition a year before Piazzolla’s death in 1992, expanding it with colleagues’ reminiscences in the second Spanish edition. The memoir quickly took its place as a key primary source on the life and loves of the composer and bandleader: those who knew Piazzolla have told Natalio Gorin that they could hear their beloved Astor in these pages. With this edition, English-speaking readers can finally hear him for themselves. Cited in the recent biography by María Susana Azzi and Simon Collier, Le Grand Tango: The Life and Music of Astor Piazzolla, this lively, frank oral history has also been translated into Italian and German.

Among the firsthand observations of others who knew Piazzolla well are those of his lyricist Horacio Ferrer, his fellow musicians, and his loving colleagues. Translator Fernando Gonzalez is an Argentine native and American popular music critic who covered Piazzolla’s career in the United States. He has annotated the Amadeus edition for the widening audience that is rediscovering Astor Piazzolla. From jazz musician Gary Burton, whose recollections appear in this volume for the first time, to Yo-Yo Ma, Gidon Kremer, and other renowned musicians who perform Piazzolla’s works on their classical programs, Piazzolla’s audience continues to grow.

Natalio Gorin has been a journalist for more than 30 years, working at several prominent publications in Argentina, including the daily Clarín, the largest newspaper in the country. His passion for tango and especially for Astor Piazzolla’s music led him into extensive investigations of the composer’s life and work. They met in 1971 and became personal friends until Piazzolla’s death in 1992. Gorin resides in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Translator and annotator Fernando Gonzalez is a regular contributor to The Washington Post and a columnist for Down Beat magazine. He was arts and culture writer and pop music critic for The Miami Herald and jazz and world music critic for The Boston Globe, and for many years reported on Astor Piazzolla’s career.

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