Astor Piazzolla


The word virtuoso is defined as, "a musician who is a consummate master of technique and artistry."


"… an individual who possesses outstanding technical ability at singing or playing a musical instrument."

Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992) was an Argentinean Composer and Bandoneon player who spent his childhood in Brooklyn. He grew up listening to George Gershwin and J.S. Bach but thanks to time spent with Tango legends Carlos Gardel and Anibal Troilo his musical language is the tango.

Astor had a gimp leg and a Napoleon complex, a product of growing up vulnerable in Brooklyn early in the 20th century, so he would stand up with his bad leg on a chair, and drape his bandoneon across it while he played in order to achieve a more commanding stage presence.

He completely revitalized tango compositions after studying with legendary French compositional pedagogue Nadi Boulanger; his compositions are now referred to as Nuevo Tango. It is a common analogy to say that Piazzolla did for Tango music what J.S. Bach did for the Baroque dance suite.

This video is Astor Piazzolla and his ensemble performing Milonga Del Angel. The milonga is a typical dance form and although it is musically notated in 4, the rhythm is felt as 3+3+2. In addition, this is one of my favorite pieces of music ever. It can be found on his penultimate album from Nonesuch Records entitled Tango: Zero Hour.

This is a virtuoso performance because of the fluidity of expression and melodic shape. Their ability to bend (not break) the rhythmic pocket is astonishing, and their capacity to read each others musical cues and pacing are a remarkable trademark of a seasoned group of top calibre musicians. The sound pours from their instruments like water from faucet.

Tango + Comedy + Tragedy + Whorehouse = Nuevo Tango you dig?