A productive composer (he wrote over a thousand pieces), Astor Piazzolla is most famous for his revolutionary « tango nuevo », blending traditional tango, folk and classical music with jazz. He was born in Mar del Plata (Argentina) on 11th March 1921. Both his parents were Italian immigrants who moved to New York in search of better opportunities. Of his difficult youth, Piazzolla remembers « … hanging out rather than attending school, listening to jazz at the door of the Cotton Club, I was both too young and too poor to be admitted. My musical world revolved around jazz (from Duke Ellington to Cab Calloway) and my father’s old gramophone recordings of Carlos Gardel’s nostalgic tangos. When I was 9, my father gave me a bandoneon and I had lessons with a teacher who taught classical music. »
Aged 16, Piazzolla settled in Buenos Aires and learned piano and harmony with a young professor called … Alberto Ginastera. In the 1950s, Piazzolla met Nadia Boulanger in Paris who advised him not to focus on « scholarly » music but on his own intuitive brand of tango with classical and jazz forms. Thus, in 1955, he first set up an octet, then formed the quintet which became world-famous. Throughout his most successful career, he associated with artists such as Argentinian author Luis Borges, Italian violinist Salvatore Accardo and jazz sax-player Jerry Mulligan. Composed in 1987, the 3 preludes are perhaps his best-known work for piano, presenting three different aspects of tango. The second one, Flora’s game, is a Milonga, a dance from which tango is derived. Both melodious and virtuous, it is technically demanding. The third one, Sunny’s game, is a tango version of a waltz.