Histoire du Tango

By Astor Piazzolla
Arranged by Mark Spede

Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992) was one of Argentina’s most gifted and prolific composers. He was a self-taught composer and an accomplished player on the bandoneon, the Argentine version of the accordion. Piazzolla is inextricably associated with the tango, which he was largely responsible for re-energizing and modernizing in his numerous compositions.

In his Histoire du Tango, Piazzolla sought to trace the evolution of the tango itself from an erotic, “not quite respectable” dance to its modern form, which is still very much alive and well in today’s Buenos Aires.

The Histoire is a series of four pieces – “Bordel 1900, Café 1930, Nightclub 1960, and Concert d’aujourd’hui” – which he composed originally for flute and guitar. We are performing the third piece in this series, in an arrangement for soprano saxophone and orchestra by Mark Spede.

Like all tangos, the music is full of wistful melody, with abrupt rhythms alternating with hints of sadness and languor.