This is one of Astor Piazzolla's best-known tango nuevo (new tango) compositions. It derives from one of his most fertile and creative periods, during which he advanced the venerable Argentine dance/popular music form into new territory.
By the time he wrote this work, Piazzolla must have realized that he was in the position of the proverbial prophet without honor in his own country. He had returned to Buenos Aires in July 1960 after a disappointing attempt in the United States to create what he then called "tango-jazz." His spirit was, however, far from broken, but he was personally disappointed that just the type of revolution he was seeking in tango had been accepted in Brazil when that country's national dance, the samba, evolved into a new form called either jazz-samba or "bossa nova," ("new thing").
At home, however, Piazzolla's efforts ran into walls of controversy. He and a leading exponent of classic tango, the dancer Jorge Vidal (whose style Piazzolla detested and called "archaic"), actually came to blows in the studios of Argentina's Channel 7. Sometimes taxi drivers would refuse to transport him, accusing him of having "destroyed the tango." He enjoyed some success among certain segments of the public and was encouraged when RCA Victor, CBS, and Philips Records all issued LPs or 45 rpm EPs of his music. This raised interest abroad in Piazzolla's music. Argentine president Arturo Illia responded to requests to include Piazzolla on cultural exchanges by backing a tour to Brazil and the United States.
Before Piazzolla left on the trip, he had a commitment on the table: a set of four compositions for a play called Melenita de Oro, by Alberto Rodriguez Muñoz. One of the pieces was Verano porteño. The word "Porteño" is an adjectival nickname pertaining to Buenos Aires, so the title is an informal way to say "Buenos Aires Summer." Newspapers found the music "original and agreeable." Piazzolla over time wrote three other pieces with similar titles for spring, winter, and autumn, and later assembled the four into a suite called "Buenos Aires Seasons." As a sort of exotic modern counterpart to the Four Seasons violin concertos of Vivaldi, these have enjoyed particular popularity among Piazzolla's large corpus of tangos, even though they were not initially conceived as a set. Either separately or as part of this suite, the very pretty, lightly swaying tango Verano porteño became one of Piazzolla's most beloved works. Often heard in a version for guitar solo, it has also been arranged for the small instrumental combinations in which the composer's music is typically heard.