That’s Not Tango – Astor Piazzolla, A Life In Music is a
project imagined by Lesley Karsten and written by Karsten and Stephen Wadsworth.
The show will be presented at The Appel Room in Jazz at Lincoln Center’s
Frederick P. Rose Hall on July 30 and 31 at 8:00 p.m. (Previous versions of the
show have been performed at Joe’s Pub and SubCulture in New York City, as well
as in New Orleans, Louisiana and Fort Myers, Florida.)
“The premise is simple,” says Karsten, who gives voice to the great Argentine bandoneon player and composer Astor Piazzolla on stage. “He’s dead, hates it and returns because he has unfinished business – with himself. He has regrets, struggles with isolation, memories of love lost. He gave what he had to give – and the music is astonishing – but he needs to set the record straight. There’s a price to be paid for immortality.”
Staged by Broadway director and co-writer Stephen Wadsworth,
That’s Not Tango (the title mocks an old, familiar complaint among tango
aficionados about this music) features Karsten and a quartet comprising JP
Jofre on bandoneon (button accordion), Piazzolla’s instrument; Nick Danielson
on violin; Brandt Fredriksen on piano and music director; and Pablo Aslan on
That’s Not Tango is both drama and chamber concert. “With That’s Not Tango, first and foremost I want the audience to be moved. I want them to have an experience,” says Karsten. “As for Astor, he’s clearly a genius. His music affects people quite profoundly. But as a human being he was flawed – and we’re still accountable for our choices no matter what kind of genius we may possess.”
Tuesday, July 30, 2019 at 8pm & Wednesday, July 31, 2019 at 8pm The Appel Room Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall Broadway at 60th Street New York, NY 10023 Event link: www.thatsnottango.com/jalc
The Consulate General of Argentina in Chicago, the Consulate General of Uruguay in collaboration and the Instituto Cervantes have teamed up to present “Feeling Piazzolla”, a documentary directed by Pablo Rho that analyses the melancholy in the artistic creations of Astor Piazzolla, one of Argentina’s most internationally acclaimed composers.
The screening will take place on Thursday, December 14 at Instituto Cervantes.
RSVP at email@example.com
Seats are on first come, first served
Reception: 6:00-7:00 p.m .
Documentary: 7:00 – 8:10 p.m.
Astor Pantaleón Piazzolla was born in the coastal city of Mar Del Plata, Argentina, in March of 1921. His parents were immigrants from southern Italy. Astor Piazzolla’s father, Vicente “Nonino” Piazzolla, was a storekeeper and craftsman. His mother, Asunta Mainetti, was a hairdresser and seamstress.
When he was three years old, he moved to New York City with his father. He lived there between 1924 and 1937, with a brief return to Mar del Plata in 1930. At age 9, his father gave him a bandoneon, which he had bought at a pawn shop for 19 dollars, as a birthday present. His father missed Argentina and its memorable tangos so he was interested in having his son learn how to play this popular musical style.
The young Astor Piazzolla learned how to play the bandoneon by himself, while he was living in the Bronx, in New York City. At the time, he played harmonica and his favorite musical genre was jazz. One of his neighbors, Hungarian pianist Bela Wilda (a disciple of Rachmaninov), introduced him to the music of Bach. Piazzolla liked that music so much that he tried to play with the bandoneon. Since he did not know how to read music, Wilda taught him to how to read and compose music. During the next four years, the only music Piazzolla played was classical music.
He was only thirteen years old when Carlos Gardel, the great Argentine tango singer and composer, heard him in New York and asked him to play in several recordings for his movie “El Día Que Me Quieras.” Gardel was so impressed with Piazzolla’s performance that he offered him the opportunity of touring with him throughout South America. Piazzolla rejected the offer and in 1937 he returned to Buenos Aires.
At 18, Piazzolla started playing the accordion and worked as an arranger for Anibal Troilo’s orchestra. In 1940 he composed a piece for Arthur Rubinstein, who was in Buenos Aires on tour. Rubinstein recognized Piazzolla’s talent and encouraged him to study composition with Alberto Ginastera, a famous Argentine classical music composer. Piazzolla studied eight years with Alberto Ginastera.
It was in 1946 when Piazzolla formed his own group to express his radical musical ideas, while at the same time he composed for the Buenos Aires Philharmonic Orchestra. Astor Piazzolla started an important revolution in the world of tango between 1946 and 1948, by taking it from the dance floors to the concert halls.
In 1950 Piazzolla left the orchestra to dedicate himself exclusively to composing. He started to win numerous composition awards in Argentina, the United States and France, where he was granted a scholarship to study with Nadia Boulanger. It was Boulanger who advised Piazzolla not to abandon his folk music roots. After returning from France, Piazzolla formed the famous Octeto (Octect) that revolutionized the music scene in Buenos Aires.
In 1956 he started performing tango concerts, developing a new perspective based in traditional tango. His concept was that tango is music to be listened to, not just music for dancing. This “Tango Nuevo” (New Tango) is a unique mix of traditional tango and the classical tradition. Astor Piazzolla took a folk music genre and created a complex interaction with classical music and jazz, creating forms such as contrapunto (counterpoint), fuga (fugue), and improvisation.
Astor Piazzolla composed soundtracks for movies, operas, and music for television. He recorded over 40 albums and traveled throughout the globe, playing at some of the most important performing arts centers in the world.
Astor Piazzolla suffered a brain hemorrhage in Paris in 1990. He never recovered and died in Buenos Aires on July 4th of 1992.
In 2000 Oxford University Press published Astor Piazzolla, his Life and Music. The book was translated to Spanish and published in 2002 by El Ateneo de Buenos Aires. In 2003 Amadeus Press published A Memoir by journalist Natalio Gorin, who was Astor Piazzola’s friend for nearly two decades.