Tango Movements: Bandoneon Concerto (rev. 2014) Juan Pablo Jofre (b. 1983) (b. San Juan, Argentina)
When I began work on this concerto, it was the first piece I had ever written for the bandoneón. I was living in my hometown, San Juan, Argentina, in the foothils of the Andes where hauntingly delicious wine is made.
Due to a deep and prolonged economic crisis, it was a very difficult period in Argentina. Two years earlier, we had had 5 presidents in one week. Many people lost their jobs and the government took over their savings. Finally my mother had left the country and emigrated to the United States.
Some time earlier, my parents had bought me a drum set, at great personal sacrifice. Three weeks after my mother left she called me at our neighbors since we did not have a phone line at home. I had a confession to make to her. I had traded the precious drum set for the bandoneón; and I was afraid she was going to be upset. But instead she told me: “My son, I am very happy that you are doing what you love”. Those simple words were so important to me!
That night I sat on my couch, and composed the two main themes of this concerto. The first movement, Allegro Marcato, was inspired by my country. The second movement, Adagio, was inspired by my mother Mercedes.
In the cadenzas following the first and second movements, the bandoneón is treated like an Organ. This approach is true to its spirit, since the Germans invented the bandoneón to play religious music in church. I wanted to take the instrument back to its origins, while of course using contemporary elements of technique.
At the same time I did not forget for an instant the roots of my country’s music: Tango. The third movement of the concerto which I wrote later in New york City, is a Milonga, one of tango’s most important dance rhythms.