About this work

Stravinsky's Tango of 1940 was the first work he composed completely in America (the slightly earlier Symphony in C had been begun in Paris). Written in straight 4/4 time with a structure built on four-bar phrases, Stravinsky's Tango is perhaps the most rhythmically regular piece he ever composed. Originally composed for the piano, the Tango seems from the start to have been envisioned as a work for ensemble. The first version for full orchestra (three flutes and clarinets, two oboes and bassoons, three saxophones, two horns, three trumpets and trombones, one tuba, percussion, piano, guitar, and strings) was made by Felix Guenther, but was apparently examined and approved by Stravinsky. This routine version was premiered with Benny Goodman conducting in July, 1941. The second version for a much more unusual ensemble (four clarinets, bass clarinet, four trumpets, three trombones, guitar, three violins, one viola, one cello, and bass) was done by Stravinsky in 1953 and premiered with Robert Craft conducting in October 1953. Apparently, Stravinsky also hoped for a dance band version and even a popular song version of the Tango. In the event, neither ever materialized.