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Symphony in C

Performing at Rutgers-Camden
Center for the Arts

Mailing Address:
PO Box 8610
Collingswood, NJ  08108

Administrative and Box Office:
576 Haddon Avenue
Collingswood, NJ 08108
Telephone: (856) 240-1503
Facsimile: (856) 240-1519

Stilian Kirov, Music Director
Pamela Brant, President

Astor Piazzolla, contiuned

While there, he acquired fluency in four languages: Spanish, English, French, and Italian. He began to play the bandoneon after his father, nostalgic for his homeland, spotted one in a New York pawn shop. At the age of 13, he met Carlos Gardel, another great figure of Argentine tango, who invited the young prodigy to join him on his current tour. Much to his dismay, Piazzolla's father deemed that he was too young to go along [1]. This early disappointment proved a blessing in disguise, as it was on this tour that Gardel and his entire band perished in a plane crash. In later years, Piazzolla made light of this near miss, joking that had his father not been so careful, he wouldn't be playing the bandoneon - he'd be playing the harp.

He returned to Argentina in 1937, where strictly traditional tango still reigned, and played in night clubs with a series of groups including the orchestra of Anibal Troilo, then considered the top bandoneon player and bandleader in Buenos Aires. The pianist Arthur Rubinstein (then living in Buenos Aires) advised him to study with the Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera. Delving into scores of Stravinsky, Bartók, Ravel, and others, he rose early each morning to hear the Teatro Colón orchestra rehearse while continuing a gruelling performing schedule in the tango clubs at night. In 1950 he composed the soundtrack to the film Bólidos de acero.

At Ginastera's urging, in 1953 Piazzolla entered his Buenos Aires Symphony in a composition contest, and won a grant from the French government to study in Paris with the legendary French composition pedagogue Nadia Boulanger.

Piazzolla returned from New York to Argentina in 1955, formed the Octeto Buenos Aires to play tangos, and never looked back.

Upon introducing his new approach to the tango (nuevo tango), he became a controversial figure among Argentines both musically and politically. The Argentine saying "in Argentina everything may change — except the tango" suggests some of the resistance he found in his native land. However, his music gained acceptance in Europe and North America, and his reworking of the tango was embraced by some liberal segments of Argentine society, who were pushing for political changes in parallel to his musical revolution.

During the period of Argentine military dictatorship from 1976 to 1983, Piazzolla lived in Italy, but returned many times to Argentina, recorded there, and on at least one occasion had lunch with the dictator Jorge Rafael Videla.

In 1990 he suffered thrombosis in Paris, and died two years later in Buenos Aires.

Among his followers, his own protege Marcelo Nisinman is the best known innovator of the tango music of the new millennium, while Pablo Ziegler, pianist with Piazzolla's second quintet, has assumed the role of principal custodian of nuevo tango, extending the jazz influence in the style. The Brazilian guitarist Sergio Assad has also experimented with folk-derived, complex virtuoso compositions that show Piazzolla's structural influence while steering clear of tango sounds; and Osvaldo Golijov has acknowledged Piazzolla as perhaps the greatest influence on his globally oriented, eclectic compositions for classical and klezmer performers.