On Tradition

14 11 2008

– an extended scene from Astor Piazzolla’s tango operetta, Maria de Buenos Aires

[originally posted here]

Uri Caine’s talent [involves] seeing connections where others see distance.

-Jeremy Eichler, cited in Tango: the Art History of Love, by Robert F. Thompson, p. 204

This is how Thompson opens his chapter on Astor Piazzolla, the great Argentine composer who fused tango with everything from jazz to the music of Bela Bartok. Where tango traditionalists saw sacrilege to old venerable forms, Piazzolla saw the spirit behind those forms, which were themselves collisions between various musical sources that made criollo music. For Piazzolla, to quote Jaroslav Pelikan, traditionalism was the dead religion of the living, while tradition is the living religion of the dead. That is how he did tango. And that is why, on the corner of Nueve de Julio and Avenida de Mayo in Buenos Aires, his image towers over the those who pass by the heart of the Argentine Republic, playing his bandoneon standing, rather than seated (another innovation).
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