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    Edgard Varese – The Varese Album

    July 31st, 2008

    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.

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