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Libertango (Jazz Play Along sheet music) by Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992)
Libertango, by Astor Piazzolla
The song Libertango by Astor Piazzolla was published in 1974 on a self-titled album. This composer, born in 1921 and died in 1992, was responsible for renewing the tango genre in Buenos Aires, which earned him more than one criticism from purists.
Libertango, already from its title, expresses Piazzolla’s will to open up the compass of tradition so that the sound echoes of a society in transformation such as the second half of the 20th century could have a place. The title itself is an acclaim for musical freedom and creativity.
Certainly, Piazzolla did not have it easy. The rupture that her style supposed was very badly received by the representatives of the tango tradition. She came to earn the epithet of ‘assassin of tango’. The rejection was not limited to a disqualifying opinion.
Some radio stations opposed broadcasting his music and the record companies feared releasing it in the face of vehement criticism of the ‘sacred cows’ of traditional tango. Not that he didn’t have admirers in his homeland, but his opponents made a lot of noise against him.
Piazzolla did not yield in his creative spirit. After years of constant work, in which he had conquered the complicity of the most receptive public, and after his consecration in Europe with the success of Libertango, Piazzolla finally managed to get Argentine critics to resolutely value his proposal. Thus he became an icon of tango.
The Libertango theme is the introduction to the album and takes place in just 2:45 minutes. The participation of elements such as the string section, the drums or the electric guitar, inadmissible in the conception of traditional tango, are part of the orchestra that accompanies the theme.
With these elements, Piazzolla reaffirms his brand of style by insisting on one of the most obvious breaks: the format. This would not be the first time that Piazzolla would play with the musical format, but on this occasion his conception would have reached greater maturity.
Harmony would be another of Piazzolla’s novel elements, who introduces harmonic relationships typical of jazz and thereby renews the auditory sensation of the genre, whose tradition was based on classical harmony.
From the beginning of the Libertango theme, the bandoneon makes its entrance marking the pulse and energy of the piece. Thus, Piazzolla exhibits the first motif or theme A, accompanied by electric bass and percussion. Little by little, the elements of the orchestra are added, which they present in the second motif or theme B on the same harmonic base, which allows the bandoneon to continue playing the first motif in parallel.
At the end of this section, the bandoneon stands out to offer its melodic splendor and present theme C on a different harmonic development. At the end of this exposition, the orchestra returns to the first part and the theme ends with a fade out.
Piazzolla was an Argentine tango bandoneonist and composer, considered one of the most important musicians of that genre in the world. He was born in Mar del Plata on March 11, 1921, and died in Buenos Aires on July 4, 1992.
His works revolutionized traditional tango in a new style called new tango or avant-garde tango, incorporating elements of jazz and classical music. He used to perform his own compositions with a variety of ensembles, as a bandoneon player. In 1992, the American music critic Stephen Holden described Piazzolla as as ‘the most important composer of tango music in the world’.
One of Piazzolla’s main rhythmic inventions has to do with a displacement of the accent within the milonga and with a particular syncopation effect, which derives in its form from 8 pulses grouped in 3+3+2 and which introduces an ambiguity in the closed tempo of tango. This is one of the most characteristic features of the musician.
Until Piazzolla, the rhythm of tango did not present variations in meter but in tempo, in speed changes during the performance; with Piazzolla the rhythm of tango is enriched in the composition itself, in the writing. The use of asymmetric groupings, of the type 3 + 3 + 2, connects Piazzolla’s music with Bela Bartok: the Hungarian musician had discovered this type of grouping in the folklore of his region. Unlike what happens with other interpreters, irregular groupings are used by Piazzolla with great regularity, as a rather stable pattern that gives tango a completely new propulsion. Piazzolla’s music connects with these rhythmic groupings from his particular reworking of the milonga.
It could be thought that in Piazzolla, the milonga is always being heard, either in its slowest forms or in its variants. Two things that were highly characteristic of tango were excluded at one point by Piazzolla: dancing and singing, in fact, the polyphonic nature of Piazzola’s orchestration expels the singer.
He was born in Mar del Plata, but from a very young age he grew up in New York, where his father gave him a bandoneon, which he began to play at an early age. He takes classes with Alberto Ginastera and wins the Fabien Sevitzky Competition, which finances a trip to Europe to study harmony, classical and contemporary music with the French composer and conductor Nadia Boulanger. In his youth he played and made orchestral arrangements for the bandoneonist, composer and director Aníbal Troilo.
When he begins to make innovations in tango in terms of rhythm, timbre and harmony, he is heavily criticized by the “old guard” tangueros, orthodox in terms of rhythm, melody and orchestration.
When in the 1950s and 1960s the traditional tangueros decreed that his compositions were not tango, Piazzolla responded with a new definition: “It is contemporary music from Buenos Aires”. Despite this, in Argentina the radio stations do not broadcast his works.
Alberto Ginastera was Piazzolla’s first teacher, and in turn, Piazzolla was his first student.
The tango “Inspiración” from 1943 is the first arrangement made by Piazzolla and recorded by the Troilo orchestra with classical harmonies.
In 1944, he left the Aníbal Troilo orchestra. On the anecdote of the “eraser”, Piazzolla would say years later: “Of the thousand notes that he wrote, he erased seven hundred…”. However, Troilo seeks a balance between making new innovations, but not going down paths that are too complicated for his orchestra, bearing in mind that not everyone was prepared to play the complex music that Piazzolla wrote. They forced the musicians to read, to study, and “they began to annoy me… they broke my exercises” Piazzolla recalled on one occasion.
After leaving Troilo’s group, Piazzolla left with Francisco Florentino’s group, and that singer allowed him to print his name as a significant addition, it was Astor Piazzolla’s orchestra that accompanied him. They debuted in Villa Urquiza at the end of 1944, recording twenty-two songs and two instrumentals. Piazzolla composed “En las noches” and “Long nights” for the occasion. A short time later, and advised by his wife, he changes the name “the typical orchestra of Astor Piazzolla.
From 1946 to 1949 he worked for the Odeón label with his independent orchestra, on those recordings his vocalists were Aldo Campoamor, Fontón Luna and Héctor Insúa. After dissolving his group, he dedicates himself professionally to arranging for orchestras such as José Bassi, Francini-Pontier and especially for Aníbal Troilo.
The concept of his Octet is already related to the sound of Julio De Caro’s sextet of 1926 and to the group that had united this violinist with Elvino Vardaro, Los Virtuosos. But the final touch, that urgent character with which the music sounded, that sensation of execution at the limit of technical possibilities (the aesthetic correlate of the ‘dangerous life’ of North American blacks and the ‘commitment’ of the French existentialists ), they came from jazz.
And it could be thought that they returned to jazz if one takes into account that this music was played, above all, for their audience and in places where Piazzolla shared the stage with ‘Mono’ Enrique Villegas, with the brothers Rubén and Leandro «Gato» Barbieri and with Sergio Milhanovich, two by Jim Hall, Art Farmer, Bill Evans and Stan Getz.125 The form and treatment, however, are far removed from everything he had done up to now within the popular field. It was about putting an instrument in that mold (a stylized tango orchestra, with strings, bandoneon and concertante piano) a classical content (his composition exercises from the Ginastera period).
In “Se armó” by José Staffolani and Pedro Maffia, one of the arrangements recorded by Piazzolla’s orchestra in 1947, the glissando breaks out that I could well have heard in Ravel or at the movies. In his own ‘Pigmalion’, where he shows a minute of instrumental introduction to ‘Villeguita’ from 1948 in which he presents the 3+3+2 rhythm with a much looser handling of counterpoint and harmony.
Everything is highlighted by the extraordinary setting of the ‘Del 46’ orchestra, where Atilio Stampone, Hugo Baralis and Leopoldo Federico were also present, and which also featured Roberto di Filippo, a bandoneonist who was essential for Piazzolla in the construction of his own way of playing. . Years later, Piazzolla saw an intention of change in his arrangements at that time but, at the same time, he recognized that he was still not clear about what he wanted.
In 1948 he dissolved the orchestra, in his opinion, it was too advanced for the time.
By the 1950s, Piazolla was a musician who composed and arranged professionally, commissioned, for the most prestigious ensembles.
In his last years of life, he was claimed by intellectuals, jazz players and rock musicians from all over the world, as well as by new references of tango, and in the 21st century he is considered one of the most important Argentine musicians in the history of his country.
He also composed music for about 40 films.
Two Argentinians in Paris (with Lalo Schifrin, 1955)
Sinfonía de Tango (Orquesta de Cuerdas, 1955)
Tango progresivo (Buenos Aires Octeto, 1957)
Octeto Buenos Aires (Octeto Buenos Aires, 1957)
Astor Piazzolla (Orquesta de Cuerdas, 1957)
Tango in Hi-Fi (Orquesta de Cuerdas, 1957)
Adiós Nonino (1960)
Piazzolla Interpreta A Piazzolla (Quinteto, 1961)
Piazzolla … O No? (canta Nelly Vazquez, Quinteto, 1961)
Nuestro Tiempo (canta Hector de Rosas, Quinteto, 1962)
Tango Contemporáneo (Nuevo Octeto, 1963)
Tango Para Una Ciudad (canta Héctor De Rosas, Quinteto, 1963)
Concierto en el Philharmonic Hall de New York (Quinteto, 1965)
El Tango. Jorge Luis Borges – Astor Piazzolla (Orquesta and Quinteto, 1965)
La Guardia Vieja (1966)
La Historia del Tango. La Guardia Vieja (Orquesta, 1967)
La Historia del Tango. Época Romántica (Orquesta, 1967)
ION Studios (1968)
María de Buenos Aires (Orquesta, 1968)
Piazzolla En El Regina (Quinteto, 1970)
Original Tangos from Argentina Vol. 1 & 2 (solo bandeneon, 1970)
Pulsación (Orquesta, 1970)
Piazzolla-Troilo (Dúo de Bandoneónes, 1970)
Concerto Para Quinteto (Quinteto, 1971)
La Bicicleta Blanca (Amelita Baltar y Orquesta, 1971)
En Persona (recita Horacio Ferrer, Astor Piazzolla, 1971)
Música Popular Contemporánea de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires. Vol.1 & 2 (Conjunto 9, 1972)
Roma (Conjunto 9, 1972)
Libertango (Orquesta, 1974)
Piazzolla and Amelita Baltar (1974)
Summit (Reunión Cumbre) (with Gerry Mulligan, Orquesta, 1974)
Suite Troileana-Lumiere (Orquesta, 1975)
Buenos Aires (1976)
Il Pleut Sur Santiago (Orquesta, 1976)
Piazzolla & El Conjunto Electrónico (Conjunto Electrónico, 1976)
Piazzolla en el Olimpia de Paris (Conjunto Electrónico, 1977)
Lo Que Vendrá (Orquesta de Cuerdas and Quinteto Tango Nuevo, 1979)
Piazzolla-Goyeneche En Vivo, Teatro Regina (Quinteto Tango Nuevo, 1982)
Oblivion (Orquesta, 1982)
Suite Punta Del Este (Quinteto, 1982)
Live in Lugano (Quinteto, 1983)
SWF Rundfunkorchester (1983)
Concierto de Nácar – Piazzolla en el Teatro Colón (Conjunto 9 y Orquesta Filarmónica del Teatro Colón, 1983)
Live in Colonia (Quinteto Tango Nuevo, 1984)
Montreal Jazz Festival (Quinteto Tango Nuevo, 1984)
The Vienna Concert (Quinteto Tango Nuevo, 1984), CD: 1991.
Enrico IV (soundtrack to the film of the same name, 1984)
Green Studio (1984)
Teatro Nazionale di Milano (1984)
El Exilio de Gardel (soundtrack to the film of the same name, Quinteto, 1986)
Tango: Zero Hour (Quinteto Tango Nuevo, 1986)
Tristezas de un Doble A (Quinteto Tango Nuevo, 1986), Vienna, Konzerthaus, CD: 1991.
Central Park Concert (Quinteto, 1987)
Concierto para Bandoneón – Tres Tangos with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Lalo Schifrin (conductor), Princeton University (1987)
El Nuevo Tango. Piazzolla y Gary Burton (Atlantic, 1987)
Sur (soundtrack of film Sur, Quinteto, 1988)
Live in Tokyo 1988 (Quinteto Tango Nuevo, 1988)
Luna. Live in Amsterdam (Quinteto Tango Nuevo, 1989)
Lausanne Concert (Sexteto Nuevo Tango, 1989)
Live at the BBC (Sexteto Nuevo Tango, 1989)
La Camorra (Quinteto Tango Nuevo, 1989)
Famille d’Artistes (1989)
Hommage a Liege: Concierto para bandoneón y guitarra/Historia del Tango (1988) with Liège Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Leo Brouwer. The concerto was performed by Piazzolla with Cacho Tirao, the Historia by Guy Lukowski and Marc Grawels.
Bandoneón Sinfónico (1990)
The Rough Dancer and the Cyclical Night (Tango apasionado) (1991)
Five Tango Sensations (Astor Piazzolla and the Kronos Quartet, 1991)
Original Tangos from Argentina (1992)
Lausanne Concert (Sexteto Nuevo Tango, 1993)
Central Park Concert 1987 (Quinteto, 1994)
El Nuevo Tango de Buenos Aires (Quinteto, 1995)
57 Minutos con la Realidad (Sexteto Nuevo Tango, 1996)
Tres Minutos con la Realidad (Sexteto Nuevo Tango, 1997)
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