Astor Piazzolla is a tango composer unlike any other. He spent most of his life in search of a respectable personal style and consequentially created a “new tango” that broke away from the conception of tango of his time. The way Piazzolla intricately develops the structure of his pieces while infusing them with the passion of traditional tango is admirable. Personally, I am a fan. I believe Piazzolla is an amazing composer. Surprisingly, however, there was a time in which Piazzolla believed his roots should remain buried and he should focus on developing classical, sophisticated compositions. Thankfully, he learned to cherish his tanguero background and create exemplary pieces of pure musical genius.
In 1953, Piazzolla entered a competition in Buenos Aires, Argentina, for which he composed 3 symphonic pieces. He was awarded first prize, and his pieces were performed in a major Buenos Aires concert hall, but the response to his pieces was utter outrage. People could not believe Piazzolla would pollute the setting of the symphonic orchestra with common instruments traditional of Argentinian tango. Piazzolla then left Argentina for a scholarship in Paris to study music under the tutelage of Nadia Boulanger. While he attempted to leave his past as a tango musician and composer behind, Boulanger would not allow the true Piazzolla to be lost in his pursuit of the purely classical. She encouraged Piazzolla to compose music that would take the tango that he knew so well to a whole new level. His style grew to become tango that refused to be nostalgic of old times in which classical tango that once took Buenos Aires by storm. Piazzolla’s tango is music brought to life and bursting with passion.
The following video is a recording of my absolute favourite piece by Piazzolla: Libertango. Originally recorded in 1974, this tango is infused with Piazzolla’s passion and creativity. The title literally combine the spanish word for ‘freedom’ and ‘tango,’ symbol of Piazzolla’s breakaway from existing conventions. The eerie piece is brought to life with a melody that encourages spontaneous dancing. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.