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    Edgard Varese – The Varese Album

    Edgard Varese - The Music of Edgard Varese

    Edgard Varèse (1883-1965) was the founder of the musical avant-garde of the 20th century. He was the first to conceive and realize works of “organized sounds” expanding, floating, flying, colliding and mixing in space. This set of twin Frisbees is chock-full with slabs of shrill, severe, austere and stunning instrumental work—including the classic abstract space percussion piece “Ionisation,” which still sounds as fresh and dynamic as it must have in 1931. Better yet is the seminal electro-acoustic work “Poéme Èlectronique” composed for the Philips Radio Corporation’s pavillion at the 1958 World’s Fair in Brussels. “An example of organized sound, ‘Poéme Èlectronique’ was created in close collaboration with the architect Le Corbusier for the exposition. Le Corbusier designed the pavillion in the shape of a three-peaked circus tent externally and (to use his own analogy) in the shape of a cow’s stomach internally. This provided a series of hyperbolic and parabolic curves from which Varèse could project his 480 seconds-long composition. Along these curves, placed with infinite care, were no fewer than 400 loudspeakers through which the ‘Poéme’ swept in continuous arcs of sound. The sound itself was accompanied by a series of projected images—some of them photographs; others montages, paintings and printed or written script. No synchronization between sight and sound was attempted by the two artists; part of the effect achieved was a discordance between aural and visual impressions and part the result of their not infrequent accidental concordance. The audience, some 15 or 16 thousand people daily for six months, evinced reactions almost as kaleidoscopic as the sounds and images they encountered—terror, anger, stunned awe, amusement, wild enthusiasm.

    Philips Pavillion
    Philips Pavilion, 1958 Brussels World’s Fair.

    “The actual elements that went into the ‘Poéme Èlectronique’ are not so important as the way these elements are organized. The listener will easily enough recognize such sounds as the human voice and bells. He will also hear some of the myriad sounds that the oscillator and generator are capable of producing. But much that he hears will not and should not have so direct an associational basis. Through the use of loops, filters and other devices, the sound is recreated, reshaped, acquires new frequencies and thereby new associations. In a word, it is ‘organized sound.’ Varèse was reticent about the emotional content of his ‘Poéme,’ insisting that it must speak for itself. But perhaps a remark he made about the female voice heard toward the end of the composition may provide a key: ‘I wanted it to express tragedy—and inquisition.’” Also utterly important and amazing is “Deserts” (1954), the world’s first-ever piece composed for orchestra and two magnetic tapes of gnarled, organized sound recorded at saw mills, factories, city streets, etc. “The title ‘Deserts’ should not lead the listener to expect descriptive music. Varèse stated that there was no program, no literal reference. For him—but not, he insisted, necessarily for anyone else—the word ‘desert’ suggests not only ‘all physical deserts (of sand, sea, snow, of outer space, of empty city streets), but also the deserts in the mind of man; not only those stripped aspects of nature that suggest bareness, aloofness, timelessness, but also that remote inner space no telescope can reach, where man is alone—a world of mystery and essential loneliness.’” See also Edgard Varèse The Complete Works 2-CD on London Classics.

    Label: Columbia Masterworks Catalog Number: MG 31078 Format: 2-LP Packaging: Gatefold jacket Tracks: 10 Total Time: 84:46 Country: United States Released: 1972 Related Artists: Iannis Xenakis More: Discogs, Perfect Sound Forever , Wikipedia

    5 responses to “Edgard Varese – The Varese Album”

    1. tlacaelel says:

      historically, the period in which Varese was working and creating and living, was an incredable time in the history of art and the evolutin of mankind in the universe. It represented a time when there was a clashing of art and emotion and space. When these events ocurred a sort of implosion caued one of the great moments when art was blossoming, thigs frenetic instead of aesthetic

    2. tlacaelel says:

      Oh what a to be alive, because it was an occurancethat took place worldwide.]\`


    3. tlacaelel says:

      pmicasso – martha graham – einstein – ghandi – chagal – phillip glass – me – you

    4. tlacaelel says:

      e e
      e e
      e e
      v v
      v v

    5. tony the pitiful copywriter says:

      We hear so much it was a time of drab, grey conformity….1950’s…1960’s.

      Just look at the automobiles from that time. What flights of fantasy.

      I would like to suggest that today’s media “soup” is what really needs some spicing up!

      No one considers artists “dangerous” any more.

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