Born to Italian parents in Argentina, Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992) grew up in New York before returning to Argentina at the age of 16. After eclectic studies of jazz, tango and classical music (especially Bach) he eventually went to study composition in Paris at the age of 32, where he discovered and developed his personal style of tangos with strong jazz and classical influences. The result of such stylistic fusion was a nuisance (even a sacrilege) for traditional argentinians and can still be a headache for librarians because of the classification/cataloguing problems that his music poses, not only stylistically (genre) but also in terms of geographical region (origin). But this is absolutely wonderful music and certainly, for this writer at least, he is undoubtedly one of the greatest composers of the second half of the 20th-century (along with John Lennon, Paul McArtney, Antonio Jobim, Shostakovitch etc).
As a performer, director, and extraordinarily inspired composer with an estimated 3000 compositions (many of which were composed for his approximately 50 film soundtracks and are still waiting to be definitively catalogued), we could consider Piazzolla as a 20th century equivalent of Bach: a Kapellmeister of world music. But Piazzolla has an additional merit: whereas Bach was more or less left to compose in peace, Piazzolla had to contend with the angry opposition of the traditional tango supporters. Fortunately, he held his ground!
“Vuelvo al Sur” is an excellent publication by Boosey and Hawkes containing the piano accompaniments (in both sheet music and play-along audio CD version) for almost all the wonderful little pieces by Piazzolla offered here below.