Astor Piazzolla was an Argentinian Tango composer and bandoneón player. His compositions turned tango into a modern style, a combination of jazz and classical music. An outstanding bandoneon musician, he was frequently in demand with various ensembles. He is famous in his home for becoming the “El Gran Astor.” Piazzolla was born in Argentina in 1921 and lived much of his early life in New York City. Between 1940 and 1945, he learned four languages, including Spanish, English, French, and Italian. He became an experienced bandoneon player, soon becoming a kid prodigy. He started to play famous tango in Argentina and relocated to nightclubs with several various groups. In response to advice from pianist Arthur Rubinstein, he started training with famous Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera. He focused on the compositions of Stravinsky, Bartók, Ravel, and others and then briefly left tango and served as a modernist classical composer. After winning a French government grant to study in Paris with Nadia Boulanger, he returned to Argentina in 1955 and founded the Octeto Buenos Aires to play tango. Since unveiling his modern form of tango, he became a divisive figure among Argentines because of his political views and musical abilities. The Argentine saying "everything may change – except the tango" indicates some of the opposition that Piazolla faced in Argentina. However, his music achieved acceptance in Europe and North America, and his reworking of the tango was welcomed by certain leftist parts of Argentine culture, who were calling for political reforms in parallel to his artistic movement.
Piazzolla's nuevo tango was distinguished from the traditional tango in its employment of fusion, expanded harmonies and dissonance, counterpoint usage, and its use of extended types of structure. Piazzolla invented modern instruments such as the flute, saxophone, acoustic guitar, electronic instruments, and a complete jazz/rock percussion kit. Piazzolla worked with various ensembles starting with the 1946 Orchestra, the 1955 "Octeto Buenos Aires" ensembles, the 1960 "First Quintet" ensemble, the 1971 "Noneto" ensemble, the 1978 "Second Quintet" ensemble, and the 1989 "Sextet" ensemble. He provided the initial compositions and settings, but he was in charge of the bandoneon in all of them. He has released an album with the internationally renowned cellist and the internationally renowned saxophonist. His various compositions include orchestral pieces such as the "Concierto para Bandoneón, Orquesta, Cuerdas y Percusión," "Doble-Concierto para Bandoneón y Guitarra," "Tres Tangos Sinfónicos" and "Concierto de Nácar para 9 Tanguistas y Orquesta", as well as song-form compositions that even today are well popular among his countrymen such "Balada para un loco" and "Adiós Nonino" which he recorded many times with different musicians and ensembles. Piazzolla published about 3,000 pieces during his career and recorded about 500.
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