Russian composer Stravinksy spent much of his life outside the country of his birth, becoming a French citizen in 1934, and an American in 1945.
Stravinsky first travelled to America at the age of 57 in order to deliver the prestigious Charles Eliot Norton lectures at Harvard University. His first wife had died from tuberculosis earlier that year and his mistress followed him to the United States where they soon married.
Rather than return home, Stravinksy and his new wife decided to stay in America. The intercontinental transition proved harder than anticipated, however, with financial difficulties – relating to the transfer of royalties from Europe to his new home – among the problems he encountered.
Stravinksy thus directed his compositional energies towards making money – with Tango a product of this time. It is, in fact, the first work Stravinksy composed wholly in America. Unlike much of the composer’s output, Tango is simple and rhythmically regular. In name and style it pays tribute to the dance music of Southern America, displaying features lifted from this new musical style against a backdrop of Stravinsky’s own musical landscape.
Originally composed for piano, Tango has been rewritten and rearranged a number of times, including by the composer himself.