When Skill Met Fortune: The Story of Astor

Astor 2

Astor Piazzola reinvented tango to combine elements of jazz and classical music over many years in Buenos Aires and New York in the mid-20th century. He is a testament to the creative spirit that compels us to discover, innovate, and ultimately communicate our vision of the world. Our Astor design pays tribute to one of the world’s foremost composers of tango music.

But before that, he was just a young boy on the streets of Little Italy…

In 1925, Astor moved with his family to New York, where he nurtured his fascination with music. One afternoon in 1934, as Astor played to passersby on a street corner of Little Italy, he was heard by Carlos Gardel, one of the most iconic voices of modern music. Carlos was impressed with this young pibe’s skill with the bandoneon, and invited Astor to join him on his next cross-country tour.

Astor’s father wouldn’t let him go, thinking he was too young to be on the road with a bunch of adult musicians. Astor was crushed. This was his dream come true! But what felt like unjust parental disapproval actually saved the boy’s life. Carlos Gardel and his entire orchestra died in a plane crash the next year while on tour.

This was a heavy blow to tango lovers everywhere. It did, however, create an opening for a new voice to emerge as tango’s biggest name, a new face to represent tango to the world.One year after the death of his near-mentor, Astor was back home in Buenos Aires where he quickly joined a leading orchestra.

Before long, his work began to shape a new future for the tango genre. A legend was born.


While our daily lives may not allow us to take giant leaps-- like going on tour with a world-class musician--  it is up to us to seek these opportunities and, more importantly, be prepared when the time comes. We each work towards our goals in a different way. For Astor, this meant playing on street corners every day,  waking up early or staying up late to push himself a bit harder. It meant putting himself in a position to seize the moment when it arose.

How could Carlos Gardel have noticed the boy on the street if Astor hadn’t been out there already, playing for strangers and improving with every note he played? If the boy hadn’t been ready, if he hadn’t been practicing his craft every day, this interaction would have been entirely different. Gardel would have seen just another forgettable kid fumbling his way through some songs on the street corner for pocket change.

Without Astor’s patience and creative practice, fortune would have smiled on someone else that day.

We too can better our craft each day, doing what we do with creativity and diligence, preparing ourselves for the next big moment so we’re ready when that time comes. 

Astor’s story, commemorated in our Astor belt, tells the tale of how the creative process unfolds, combining hard work and daily practice with spontaneity and improvised tweaks. His story urges us to dedicate our best selves to our own pursuits so we never have to let opportunity slip away.

Our Astor design pays tribute to this giant of music. 

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