Astor Piazzolla’s Concierto Para Quinteto: A New Arrangement for Woodwind Quintet
Peliska, Samuel (author)
Bish, Deborah, 1971- (professor directing treatise)
Buchler, Michael Howard, 1966- (university representative)
Keesecker, Jeff (committee member)
Ohlsson, Eric Paul, 1952- (committee member)
Florida State University (degree granting institution)
College of Music (degree granting college)
College of Music (degree granting department)
The music of Argentinian tango composer Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992) is currently enjoying greater worldwide popularity than ever before among musicians and audiences alike. Yet for much of his lifetime Piazzolla had to struggle for acceptance; his idiosyncratic style is the product of many disparate influences, such that he often found it difficult to appeal to the diverse sections of the public he hoped to win over with his music. Piazzolla referred to his own music as nuevo tango, an avant-garde version of Buenos Aires' most popular dance form. He saw it as a natural evolution of the traditional tango style in which he was well versed, having performed in many of the greatest Buenos Aires tango bands of the 1940s. His detractors among Argentina's tango traditionalists, however, insisted for years that his more erudite compositions were not even tangos at all. Certainly, in some ways his music displays a closer kinship with Western classical music. Piazzolla had a lifelong love for the music of J.S. Bach, which he first heard as a child through the wall of his family's apartment in New York City. Later, as a pupil of Alberto Ginastera and Nadia Boulanger, he also became a devoted scholar and admirer of Stravinsky, Bartók, and Prokofiev, and his own compositions bear the mark of these twentieth-century giants. Another source of inspiration for Piazzolla was jazz: as a young man he would sneak out to Harlem to hear Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway, and his tastes later expanded to include the likes of Gil Evans and Gerry Mulligan. Piazzolla was able to fuse these various influences--classical, jazz, and tango--into a distinctive musical idiom that, while indebted to other styles, is nonetheless uniquely and unmistakably his own. Initially there was not much public support for this new musical voice, especially in his native Argentina. But through perseverance and relentless self-promotion over the course of a performing career that spanned more than fifty years, Piazzolla was able to increase his fan base from a small but loyal core of devotees into a worldwide following that has only continued to grow since his death. The eclecticism of his source material, once a stumbling block to his critics, is now a major source of appeal for today's increasingly diverse cosmopolitan audiences. Piazzolla's music has been especially embraced in the classical music community, where it has found such distinguished champions as Yo-Yo Ma, Gidon Kremer, and the Kronos Quartet. A growing number of arrangements of his works are being produced for ensembles of various sizes and configurations, so that more musicians can have the pleasure of bringing Piazzolla's music to an ever-wider public. The purpose of this treatise is to introduce my new arrangement for woodwind quintet of Piazzolla's original composition Concierto para Quinteto. This piece was premiered in 1971 and was designed to feature the musicians of the Quinteto Nuevo Tango, the most successful of Piazzolla's groundbreaking ensembles: it is scored for bandoneon, violin, electric guitar, piano, and double bass. It consists of three movements or sections (played attaca), and at nine minutes in length it is among his more substantial instrumental pieces. It exhibits all the traits of his mature compositional style, and while Piazzolla wrote this quintet during his most productive and creative period--the late 1960s and early 1970s--it remained in his active performance repertory until the end of his career. This treatise begins with a brief survey of Piazzolla's life and career. Full-length scholarly biographies of Piazzolla are widely available, so in keeping with the primary purpose of this treatise and in order to avoid redundancy, the first chapter focuses primarily on those aspects that will provide readers with a grasp of Piazzolla's musical style and influences, and the trajectory of his creative life. The second chapter features a discussion of the Quinteto Nuevo Tango--its instrumentation, the unique role of each instrument in the group, its importance within the totality of Piazzolla's oeuvre--an exercise necessary to understand the ensemble for which Piazzolla wrote Concierto para Quinteto. The third chapter provides an analytical commentary on Piazzolla's original version of Concierto para Quinteto, dealing with questions of form, harmony, and orchestration, and finishes by offering an in-depth look at my new arrangement, detailing the various challenges and decisions I faced when creating my own adaptation of the piece.
November 10, 2014.
A Treatise submitted to the College of Music in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Music.
Includes bibliographical references.
Deborah Bish, Professor Directing Treatise; Michael Buchler, University Representative; Jeff Keesecker, Committee Member; Eric Ohlsson, Committee Member.
Florida State University