Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Edgard Varèse - Birthday Boy!

Somehow it's hard to imagine Edgard Varèse as a babe in swaddling, but he was born on 22 December 1883.  He's more John the Baptist,  "The First Wild Man of Classical Music".  Varèse is interesting for more than his music. He knew everyone from Ferruccio Busoni to Pierre Boulez who championed him long before most had even heard of him.(Boulez has recorded the complete works of Varèse - outstanding). Varèse is generally creditted as the founder of electronic music even though hew didn't have electronic means of making music. He didn't even have a reel to reel tape until around 1955. He's not difficult listening. In fact I think it helps to know Varèse to understand the times he lived in.  Technology and the machine age pitted against exotic primitivism.  Think Picasso, Braque, Matisse. Even Elliott Carter (whom he also knew) There's plenty on Varèse on this site - quite a lot of clips, links, lots on the Philips Pavilion and Xenakis, and even a full download of the 20's movie Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde in which the composer appears. Enter Varèse in the search or follow the links on right. I've reviewed nearly all Varèse concerts in the UK in the last few years, several of them here (Varèse 360 South Bank, for example).

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