“Adiós Nonino” is a tango of the vanguardia and one of the best and most famous compositions of the tango nuevo genre. It was composed by Ástor Piazzolla following the death of his father, Vicente Piazzolla, in 1959.
Astor Piazzolla was performing in Puerto Rico with Juan Carlos Copes and Maria Nieves when his father died in an accident in Mar del Plata. This event came at a difficult time of his life when he was struggling to sustain his family while breaking away from the traditional tango scene. The sudden death of his father in the middle of so much uncertainty caused him to experience powerful emotions and to produce this most extraordinary masterpiece.
It is of common knowledge that when Piazzolla came home after his tour, he asked his family to leave him alone, locked himself up in a room and came out with Adios Nonino. Piazzolla says he composed it in one hour and left all the memories he had of his father in that one piece. Many times he tried to improve it or to write something better but was never able to do so.
Nonino is an affectionate nickname and diminutive of nonno, which means “grandfather” in Italian. Astor Piazzolla had already written a piece called “Nonino” in 1954, also in honor of his father. The two of them had been very close and it’s through his father that Piazzolla learned to love the tango while growing up away from his home country in New York City.
As “Adiós Nonino” became a favourite of his repertoire, Ástor Piazzolla ended up having to perform it a lot more often then he might have wanted to. Yet he always managed to do so with some obvious and genuine emotion.