Edgard Varèse MP3, CDs & Vinyl, Music of Edgard Varèse

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Edgard Varèse MP3, CDs & Vinyl, Music of Edgard Varèse




Edgard Varèse: Overview


Edgard Varèse: Edgard Varèse, also Edgar Varèse (b. Paris, 22 Dec 1885; d. New York, 6 Nov 1965).



Edgard Varèse studied mathematics and natural history at the École Polytechnique, but at the age of nineTeen he decided to make music his career, against his father's wishes; he left the parental home and never returned. He studied at the Schola Cantorum from 1904 to 1906, learning composition with d'Indy and counterpoint and fugue with Roussel: in 1907 he entered Widor's master class at the Conservatoire. During the season of 1906-7 he founded the Choeur de l'Universite Populaire and organised the concerts of the Chateau du Peuple: he was awarded the 'bourse artistique' of the City of Paris. He was already interested in 'radical music'; he once said: 'At twenty I began to feel sound as a living material, to be formed without wilful limitations - from this time on I thought of music as only existing in space.' He got impulses from African drum techniques which led him in a new direction; he was also influenced by the Futurists and their 'art of noises' (bruitisme) which broke with traditional methods of organising sound. The only work of Edgard Varèse to be preserved from this period is the Verlaine song Un grand sommeil noir, which shows the influence of Debussy and also a feeling for stark medievalism.



Edgard Varèse spent the years 1909-14 in Berlin, where he founded the Symphonischer Chor for the performance of old polyphonic music. He wrote an opera, now lost, on the subject of Oedipus and the Sphinx, to a text by Hofmannsthal; his symphonic poem Bourgogne was performed in 1910. He became friendly with Busoni, who made a great impression on him. He was a guest conductor with Prague Philharmonic Orchestra in 1914. In that year he returned to France and joined the army; a serious illness led to his discharge in 1915, and in 1916 he went to America, where he spent the rest of his life. In 1919 he founded and conducted the New Symphony Orchestra, and in 1921 he and Carlos Salzedo founded the International Composers' Guild; the object of both organisations was the propagation of new music. His earliest work which he recognised, Offrandes (1921), is a setting of surrealist poems by Huidobro and Tablada; this was followed in 1923 by Hyperprism, which Stokowski performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1926. The audience were scandalised by the music, which was quite unlike anything they had heard before; it ineluded tone clusters, continuous percussion effects and seemingly endless repetitions of short, violent phrases. Other works followed, including Ameriques (1926), Arcana (1927), Ionisation (1931) for 41 percussion instruments, including sirens, Integrates for chamber orchestra (1931) and Espace for orchestra (1937). Ecuatorial of 1943 is a setting of a Mayan prayer for men's voices, brass, percussion, organ and two Thereminovox' - Edgard Varèse was already anticipating the development of electronic instruments, and, probably for that reason, his output over the next few years was smaller until the new electronic inventions of the 1950s. He made full use of these in Deserts of 1949-54, in which a live ensemble has a dialogue with a pre-recorded stereophonic tape, and in the Poeme Electronique, written for the Brussels Exhibition of 1958 and meant to be performed by a stereophonic battery of loudspeakers. His last work, Nocturnal, was left unfinished at his death and was completed by Chou Wen-Chung; it is a setting of a text from Anais Nin's The House of Incest in which the music explodes with alarming violence. Edgard Varèse belonged to no school, and his influence did not begin to be felt in Europe until after his visit to the Darmstadt Summer School in 1950; but his works anticipated by nearly forty years the present generation of electronic composers in their original use of sound, and are among the most remarkable creations in modern music. He said: 'Composers who are gifted with an inner ear have heard for years a new music of sounds which the old instruments cannot produce for them.'



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