Born January 12, 1927, Leopoldo Federico is a living icon in the tango world. A composer, an orchestra leader and a world class bandoneónist. Piazzolla played his music and Federico played Piazzolla's music. We have an example today: Federico and the Orquesta Escuela de Tango Emilio Balcarce play Adios Nonino in a May, 2009 concert at the Argentine National Library in Buenos Aires.
Based on the many comments in the Azzi/Collier book, Le Grand Tango, the two men genuinely admired each other. Their relationship goes all the way back to the 1946 Orquesta Tipica de Astor Piazzolla in which Federico played bandoneón beside Piazzolla. In 1953, when Buenos Aires (Opus 15) was premiered, Federico was one of two bandoneónists in the orchestra. That piece was to lead directly to Piazzolla's winning of the Sevitsky prize and his studies with Nadia Boulanger. In 1957, when Piazzolla formed the Buenos Aires Octet, Federico was a member and one of Federico's compositions, Neotango, was included in their recording, Octeto Buenos Aires. In 1970, Federico and his bandoneón were once again beside Piazzolla for the recording a bandoneón quartet playing Recuerdos de bohemia. This masterpiece of bandoneón performance can be found on the recording, Concierto para Quintet. In the last recorded interaction between the two men, at Piazzolla's introduction of his final Sextet in 1989, Federico was heard to whisper to a friend, "He continues to be the best of all of us." As time has thinned the ranks of those who played with Piazzolla, Leopoldo Federico now carries the mantle of "the best of all of us."
If the video does not appear below, click here. Spanish speakers may enjoy Federico's comments at the end of the video.
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