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.
El Tango -- (1965). Piazzolla and his band set some of Borges' poems to music in this out-of-print 1965 LP.
The Rough Dancer and the Cyclical Night -- (1987). A cycle of 14 pieces loosely inspired by Borges, this work was commissioned for the Hispanic American Arts Center's production of Tango Apasionado.
Borges & Piazzolla -- (1996). A new recording of the works on the 1965 El Tango LP, this CD features Daniel Binelli, Jairo, and Lito Cruz.
Fundación Astor Piazzolla -- The Web site of the official Fundación Astor Piazzolla in Argentina, which is run by Piazzolla's wife. (Spanish)
Piazzolla.org -- This site hosts the Astor Piazzolla Mailing List as well as a lovely set of Piazzolla resources.
Piazzolla Biography -- A very nice biographical sketch of the Maestro, with some RealVideo concert footage.
Piazzolla Works -- A complete list of works, arranged by musical style.
Piazzolla Listening Booth -- A database of Piazzolla's music, available for sampling via RealAudio.
AMG Card -- The All-Music Guide entry on Astor Piazzolla