Personalities | Edgard Varèse | Modern Era | Classical

(Ed-gar’ Va-rez’) 1883–1965
French-American composer

As a young man, Varèse became convinced that the twentieth century needed its own music, untrammelled by the legacy of the nineteenth. He emigrated to the US and began to write music (Amériques, Offrandes, 1921) that took the dissonance and rhythmic energy of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring as a starting-point. He gave more and more importance to percussion, writing Ionisation (1931) for percussion alone, used the pioneering instrument ondes martenot in Ecuatorial (1934) and then fell silent for 16 years until, with the development of tape recording, he could manipulate urban sounds and other noise (Déserts, 1954) and invent the new sounds (Poème electronique, 1958) he had imagined.

Recommended Recording:
Complete Works, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Asko Ensemble (cond) Riccardo Chailly (Decca)

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