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Four Seasons of Buenos Aires

About the Work

Quick Look Composer: Astor Piazzolla
Program note originally written for the following performance:
Fortas Chamber Music Concert: The Sphinx Virtuosi with the Catalyst Quartet and Elena Urioste, violin Wed., Oct. 10, 2012, 7:30 PM
© Dr. Richard E. Rodda

Four Seasons of Buenos Aries For Violin and Strings (1968)

Astor Piazzolla

Born March 11, 1921 in Mar Del Plata, Argentina Died July 5, 1992 in Buenos Aires

 The greatest master of the modern tango was Astor Piazzolla, born in Mar Del Plata, Argentina, a resort town south of Buenos Aires, on March 11, 1921, and raised in New York City, where he lived with his father from 1924 to 1937. Before Astor was ten years old, his musical talents had been discovered by Carlos Gardel, then the most famous of all performers and composers of tangos and a cultural hero in Argentina. At Gardel's urging, the young Astor moved to Buenos Aires in 1937, and joined the popular tango orchestra of Anibal Troilo as arranger and bandoneón player. Piazzolla studied classical composition with Alberto Ginastera in Buenos Aires, and in 1954 he wrote a symphony for the Buenos Aires Philharmonic that earned him a scholarship to study in Paris with Nadia Boulanger. When Piazzolla returned to Buenos Aires in 1956, he founded his own performing group, and began to create a modern style for the tango that combined elements of traditional tango, Argentinean folk music and contemporary classical, jazz and popular techniques into a "Nuevo Tango" that was as suitable for the concert hall as for the dance floor. In 1974, Piazzolla settled again in Paris, winning innumerable enthusiasts for both his Nuevo Tango and for the traditional tango with his many appearances, recordings and compositions. By the time he returned to Buenos Aires in 1985, he was regarded as the musician who had revitalized one of the quintessential genres of Latin music. Piazzolla continued to tour widely, record frequently and compose incessantly until he suffered a stroke in Paris in August 1990. He died in Buenos Aires on July 5, 1992.

Piazzolla realized his electrifying blend of the fire and passion of the traditional tango with the vast expressive resources of modern harmony, texture and sonority in some 750 widely varied works that explore the genre's remarkable expressive range, from violent to sensual, from witty to melancholy, from intimate to theatrical. Among his most ambitious concert works is Las Quatro Estaciones Porteñas ("The Four Seasons"), published originally for piano solo in 1968 and later arranged for his own ensemble (he often used one of the movements to open his concerts) and for other instrumental combinations. The four movements are not specifically pictorial, as are Vivaldi's well-known precedents, but are instead general evocations of the changing seasons in Piazzolla's native Argentina.