Astor Pantaleón Piazzolla was born on March 11, 1921 in Mar del Plata, Argentina, only child of Vicente “Nonino” Piazzolla and Asunta Mainetti. In 1925, the family relocates to New York City until 1936 with a brief return to Mar del Plata in 1930. In 1929, when Astor is 8 years old, his father gives him his first bandoneon which he had bought at a pawn shop for 19 dollars. Astor studies the bandoneon for one year with Andrés DÁquila and he makes his first record, Marionette Spagnol; a phonograph disk (non commercial) at the Radio Recording Studio in New York on 11/30/1931.
In 1933 he studies with the Hungarian pianist Bela Wilda, disciple of Rachmaninov, and of whom Astor would later say “With him I learned to love Bach”. Shortly thereafter, he meets Carlos Gardel who becomes a good friend of the family and with whom he takes part in the movie “El Dia Que me Quieras”, playing a brief part as a newspaper boy. This feature film plays a monumental role in the history of Tango.
In 1936, he returns with the family to Mar del Plata, Argentina for good, where Astor begins to play in some tango orchestras. It is here that he makes his second grand discovery (after Bach with Bela Wilda), when he listens to Elvino Vardaro’s sextet on the radio, Elvino would later become Astor’s violinist. That alternative way of interpreting Tango deeply touches him and he becomes an admirer of Elvino. Astor’s love for Tango, and especially for that style of Tango, touches him deeply and gives him the courage to move to Buenos Aires in 1938. He was only 17 years old. He plays on some second rate tango orchestras until 1939, when he realizes his dream of playing bandoneon within one of the greatest tango orchestras of that time; the Anibal Troilo orchestra. “Pichuco” was one of the best bandoneon players, and Astor always considered him one of his masters.