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by Astor Piazzolla

The 2022 Global Orchestra will perform together the dynamic

Libertango by Astor Piazzolla. 

We will use the orchestra arrangement by James Kazik. 

About Astor Piazzolla by John Henken

Born in Mar del Plata, Piazzolla immigrated to New York with his family, where he grew up on the Lower East Side. Sports and other activities interested him far more than did the tango, the music of his father. The gift of a bandoneón began to change that, however.

"The first bandoneón that I had my Papa gave me when I was eight years old," Piazzolla recalled in one version of the event, although he also said it was when he was nine. "He brought it wrapped in a box, and I was happy, believing that it was the skates that I had asked for many times. That was deceptive, however. In place of the skates I encountered an apparatus that I had never seen in my life. Papa sat himself on a chair, placed the thing between my arms, and said to me: 'Astor, this is the instrument of the tango, I want you to learn to play it.' My first reaction was to complain. The tango was the music that he listened to almost every night when he returned from work, and which I did not like."

Though its moaning wheeze, seductive and sarcastic, is the quintessential sound of tango, the bandoneón is of German origin, a button accordion invented by one Heinrich Band in the 1840s and brought to South America in the great wave of immigration. Models differ, but the South American instrument typically has 71 buttons arranged in patterns that are quite difficult to master for anyone used to keyboard instruments.

In characteristic fashion, the first music that Piazzolla played seriously on the bandoneón was Bach, which he learned from the Hungarian pianist Bela Wild. Whatever his early reservations, however, Piazzolla eventually took to the instrument and the tango repertory. He was 16 years old when his family returned to Argentina, and he was soon working regularly in the best tango orchestras, including that of Aníbal Troilo. In 1944 Piazzolla left the Troilo band to form his own ensemble, the Orquesta del 46, to play his own compositions. At that time he also was studying composition with Ginastera. A symphony he composed in 1954 for the Buenos Aires Philharmonic earned him a scholarship to study in Paris with Nadia Boulanger, who advised him to cultivate the tango as his true mode of expression.

This he did with increasing assurance and originality after returning to Argentina the following year. He formed the Octeto Buenos Aires and then the Quinteto Nuevo Tango as the performing vehicles for his compositions, working out of his own club.

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