1921, March 11 – BIRTH OF ASTOR PIAZZOLLA

Composer, Leader, Bandoneonist, Pianist (Pisces) – “You idiot, that’s Piazzolla” Nadia Boulanger screamed at a young Astor Piazzolla; looking back on a story book career many years later he would say “in a mere matter of ten seconds, she had sent to hell ten years of work”…perhaps more than any one else, it was Nadia Boulanger, renown music teacher of the twentieth century, who was responsible for the eventual emergence of the genius Astor Piazzolla…he had been ashamed of his tango roots and his bandoneon; his true soul, he thought, belonged to Mozart and Bach but the astute Boulanger set him on the right destiny…the destiny of combining classical, jazz and tango all cemented by the musical milieu of New York where he grew up…it was a fateful day in 1953 when it was suggested to him to enter one of his compositions into the “Fabien Seveitsky Competition” which he did very reluctantly, he just did not think his work was good enough…to his great surprize, he won first place and a scholarship to study with the legendary Nadia Boulanger in Paris

***

Although Astor Piazzolla was born in Argentina he was raised in New York and his music, his character and his life reflected that ambience; he even spoke english with a New York accent…his granparents had been immigrants from the ancient town of Trani, a settlement of ancient jewish scholarship in the region of Puglia in Southern Italy…as a boy he went through a series of operations due to a polio deformed right leg; his father advised him to be tough and to never let anything defeat him a lesson he learned all too well; he was once thrown out of school for aggressive behavior…the composition which won him his first popular acclaim was “Ballada Para Un Loco” which was premiered in 1969 by his second wife Amelita Baltar at the First Iberoamerican Music Festival where it won second place…his immortal “Libertango” was composed during the period that he lived in Rome in the 1970s…in his prolific career he would compose over 1000 works including orchestral works that continue to be played by orchestras the world over…Astor once said, “music is more than a woman because you can divorce a woman but not music…once you marry her, she is your everlasting love and you go to the grave with her”…he also once said of the most famous tango in the world, “La Cumparsita”, “the worst of all tangos”

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