Astor Piazzolla was born in 1921 in Mar del Plata, Argentina, the only child of Italian emigrants. He moved to New York as a child, where his father bought his first bandoneón at the age of 8. He studied with the Hungarian pianist Bela Wilda (disciple of Rachmaninov) and met Carlos Gardel, the king of classical tango, who became a good friend of the family. In 1936, he returned to Argentina and began playing in a number of tango orchestras.
Soon he became a member and arranger of the Anibal Troilo orchestra, one of the best tango orchestras of that time. To develop his skills he decided to study with Alberto Ginastera. He was listening to lots of jazz and in 1946 he formed his first orchestra. His search for his own style, became obsessive and decided to abandon tango and the bandoneón to dedicate himself to his musical studies. At a composition contest he won a scholarship to study in Paris with Nadia Boulanger, who encouraged him to return to tango.
In 1955 Piazzolla returned to Argentina and formed a group, the Octeto Buenos Aires. His new works broke away from classical tango and he created chamber music without singer or any dancers. These new works generated hatred among the followers of orthodox tango. In 1978, Piazzolla formed his second quintet (bandoneón, violin, bass, piano, and electric guitar), which would make him world famous. His popularity continued to grow and with his quintet he toured all over the world. He suffered a stroke and died two years later in Buenos Aires on July 4, 1992. His works continue to influence the best musicians in the world even after his death.