During the 40s, several refined orchestras bloomed. All of them with musicians with scholar musical education and many were virtuoso solo players. They played in the style of great concerts.
Between the 10s to the 20s, the good orchestras of Roberto Firpo (piano), and Francisco Canaro (violin) and Arolas were the most important ones. Jose De Caro and Osvaldo Fresedo based their activities mainly at Nightclubs.
A few players set the tone for what was going to be one of the greatest periods in tango: Juan D'Arienzo (violin-1936), Anibal Troilo (bandoneon-1937), Carlos Di Sarli (piano-1938), and Osvaldo Pugliese (piano-1939). They were followed by many other orchestras conducted by Osmar Maderna, Miguel Calo, Raul Kaplun, Alfredo Gobbi, Jr., Ricardo Tanturi, Jose Basso, Francisco Rotundo, Alfredo D'Angelis, Carlos DiSarli, Francini-Pontier, and Osvaldo Frededo. From the 40s onwards, Troilo and Pugliese were the leaders. In the 50s and 60s, Salgan was a shining star. From 1960 until today Piazzola, the great innovator has been the preeminent musician.
Five of them merit special attention
1) Anibal Troilo. He was born in 1914. He began playing bandoneon at 13 in a trio with another great musician and pianist, Miguel Nijensohn. Started his 1st orchestra in 1937 (at the Marabu dancing). From 1956 until his death, in 1975, he became one of the greatest interpreters, conductors and composers of his generation, and recorded 40 of his own compositions. He was instrumental to surround himself with the best group of musical arrangers that gave his presentations a "concert quality" and the best group of singers who were able to emphasize the music played by all.
2) Osvaldo Pugliese. He started playing piano at 15 in a trio, and then with small groups until he started his orchestra in 1939. He gave music a particular rhythm, tone and accent, a sound that was the basis for his own composition entitled "La Yumba". Pugliese's was followed by the working class as he was a supporter of Communist causes and spent many days and months in jail because of his political beliefs. During Peron's time, his music was ironically in demand because of his identification with the working class (but not necessarily with the Peronist Doctrine). If playing at Carnegie Hall is considered the sign of ultimate achievement in classical music, playing at the "Colon Theater“ is an event of equivalent importance. This is especially true when we talk about a tango orchestra conducted by Pugliese in 1985, when he was 80 years old, an event similar to Benny Goodman playing at Carnegie Hall.
3) Horacio Salgan. He created his orchestra in 1944, and played until 1957 when he switched to quintet. He was one of the first to incorporate the influence of jazz musicians in tango. His characteristic piano sound was sharp, brilliant and surprising in his execution with some jazz color included
4) Marianito Mores. He was an extraordinary pianist and an excellent composer. He had his own orchestra in the 50s and 60s, and his music served to bridge tango with the best period of piano romanticism of the 19th century. His compositions melodically and structurally seemed to have been written by Chopin or Liszt due to the flavor and color of the music, not quite proper for an Argentinean tango composer.
5) Finally, Astor Piazzola is the one who achieved international recognition, and is now the baby pet of orchestras and soloists (like Yo-Yo-Ma, Barenboim, Gideon Kremer, Emanuel AX, to name a few). He represents the change, a new and different style that opened the door to tango musical experimentation and challenges. He was born in 1921 and lived in NewYork since very young. Later, he studied with the best musicians: Bela Wilda (student of Rachmaninoff); in Buenos Aires with Ginastera; and in 1954 with Nadia Boulanger in Paris. She was the one who influenced him to continue writing his new style, which by 1960 was called "Jazz tango". In 1968, composed the opera Maria de Buenos Aires recently premiered at Symphony Hall in 1998, and wrote cello music dedicated to Rostropovich. His "Adios Nonino" & "Balada Para Un Loco" are now classic tangos. He went from the 2/4 rhythm to the 4/4 rhythm, and added syncopated rhythms that became the basis of his well-known music. Initially, he had to pay a heavy price for his creativity since nobody in Argentina was willing or ready to accept his style in 1960s. His music was a reflection of influences received in the U.S. during his childhood and adolescent years. In 1974, he recorded with Gerry Mulligan (saxophonist). He died in 1992. It was only after his death, and just recently that he achieved National and International recognition. His music is now applauded in all music halls. The guitar player Oscar Lopez Ruiz said: "Piazzola gave a universal dimension to the tango music and elevated it to eternity".
As a result of his work, he created a legion of a new generation of musicians who followed his style of music. Gustavo Fedel and Rodolfo Mederos (who played with Barenboim) are the best representatives of the new wave.