Piazzolla, Ástor Pantaleón, 1921–92, Argentinian composer and player of the bandoneón (a large accordionlike instrument), b. Mar del Plata. He spent much of his childhood in New York, returned (1937) to Argentina, and in the 1950s studied with Nadia Boulanger in Paris. He became famous for his "tango nuevo," music that blends the earthy traditional Argentinian tango with elements from classical music and jazz and that is often scored for electric as well as traditional instruments. Made for the concert stage, not the dance floor, his tangos brought him acclaim in Europe and Latin America but also provoked severe criticism from tango purists. Among his many works are Buenos Aires (1951) for orchestra and bandoneóns; Maria de Buenos Aires (1967), a tango opera; The Four Seasons (1964–70); Summit (1974), a collaboration with saxophonist Gerry Mulligan; and Le Grand Tango (1982) for cello and piano.
See N. Gorin, Astor Piazzolla, A Memoir (1999, tr. 2001), M. S. Azzi and S. Collier, Le Grand Tango: The Life and Music of Astor Piazzolla (2003).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.