“Adios Nonino” (Goodbye, Nonino) is one of Astor Piazzolla’s masterpieces. The work was written in October 1959, shortly after Piazzolla learned of his father’s death. The composer was touring in Spanish-speaking Latin America at the time, and after a presentation in Puerto Rico with Juan Carlos Copes and Maria Nieves Rego, word spread that his father, Vicente Piazzolla, nicknamed Nonino, had died in a bicycle accident in his hometown of Mar del Plata. The shocking news, along with the failure of the tour, economic problems and nostalgia, led Piazzolla to a deep depression. Upon learning the terrible news, he composed the work in only about 30 minutes, in honor of his father. Here is what Daniel Piazzolla, the composer’s son, remembers of that night in 1986 …“Dad asked us to leave him alone for a few hours. We went to the kitchen. First there was absolute silence. After a while we heard our father playing the bandoneon. It was a very sad, terribly sad tune. He has composed “Adiós Nonino” …
Astor Piazzolla was only eight when his father gave him a bandoneon. It is him who helped his son in his search for “his” music and the choice of his own path in art. For Piazzolla, his father was the most important person in his life, in his mind he ranks first after God. The shock of his death was so great that that night the tango artist screamed without tears. But through his art, he bequeathed to the history of Argentine music one of his most beautiful and eternal pages. Nonino is an Argentine variation of the Italian word Nonno (grandfather), which was used as a diminutive. The work is based on “Nonino” – another tango that Astor wrote five years earlier in Paris, also dedicated to Vicente Piazzolla. The composer preserved the rhythmic part of the tango and reworked the rest, making some additions.
At first the tango is intrusive, sobbing, but later the music softens and grows into the theme of a sublime memory of the father. And although Piazzolla’s famous works are many, it is “Goodbye Nonino” that becomes his symbol forever. This is one of the most famous compositions of Piazzolla, recorded many times in various arrangements and with various instruments. “Adios Nonino” was performed at the royal wedding of Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands and his wife Máxima Zorreguieta in honor of her Argentine roots. The music is used by several famous skaters for their programs.
Due to its melancholy melody and the fact that Piazzolla wrote it so far from his homeland while suffering from severe depression, “Adios Nonino” always awakens in listeners a strong sense of nostalgia and has become a symbol of the Argentine diaspora.