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Edgard Varèse


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Edgard Varèse, the pioneering composer of electronic music, formed the subject of a major exhibition in Basel in 2006; it displayed many previously unknown documents from the composer's estate, including manuscripts, letters, and other material.

This volume contains detailed commentaries on all the items on display, as well as thirty-two essays by leading authors from Europe and America. Varèse's life and music are discussed under the following headings: Influences - Points of Orientation; Conductor and Initiator in New York; Probing Uncharted Territory; Impact and Reception. Many previously unknown documents from the composer's estate, recently acquired by the Paul Sacher Foundation, form the basis of a nuanced picture of Varèse's life, musical thought, and compositional output.

The book is lavishly illustrated with facsimiles of manuscripts, letters, and other documents from the composer's collection, as well as reproductions of paintings, drawings and sculpture documenting Varèse's close ties to the visual arts.

Contributors: Jonathan W. Bernard, Gianmario Borio, Diane Bouchard, Austin Clarkson, Hermann Danuser, Michael Duchesneau, Sabine Feisst, Kyle Gann, Fritz Gerber, Theo Hirsbrunner, Anne Jostkleigrewe, Matthais Kassel, Sylvia Kahan, Klaus Kropfinger, Ernst Lichtenhahn, Malcolm Macdonald, Guido Magnaguagno, Olivia Mattis, Ulrich Mosch, Helga de la Motte-Haber, Felix Meyer, Dieter Nanz, Robert Piencikowski, Wolfgang Rathert, David Schiff, Anne C. Shreffler, Heinz Stahlhut, Jürg Stenzl, Denise von Glahn, Chou Wen-Chung, Heidy Zimmermann.

Published in cooperation with the Paul Sacher Foundation.


Should go a long way to restoring the status of this composer who is, frankly, as often misunderstood as he is nevertheless alluded to. [...] What's remarkable about the book is that specialists and experts are likely to find much material of interest to them as are newcomers genuinely curious to understand why such an apparently "retiring" figure as Varèse is considered so important. Indeed, the editors, Felix Meyer and Heidy Zimmermann, have done a remarkable job in contextualizing and weighing then setting into relief the contexts and proportional importances of the aspects and phases on Varèse's work and life. [...] All in all, Edgard Varèse: Composer, Sound Sculptor, Visionary is now the source for all matters concerning this... highly influential composer, sculptor of sound and - obviously - visionary. CLASSICAL.NET

What... should be emphasized is the enormous contribution this volume makes to our understanding of a composer increasingly recognized as central to the timbral, technological, and aesthetic developments of twentieth-century music. MUSIC & LETTERS

This book will likely impel readers to immerse themselves in the forceful, pioneering music of Varese. Recommended. CHOICE

This large and handsomely-designed volume... encapsulates a mass of fresh information, letters and tributes from Varese associates all the way from Debussy... to Boulez and Frank Zappa. No-one interested in this composer, or indeed the 20th century modernist adventure as a whole, should be without it. BBC MUSIC [Bayan Northcott]

Lavishly illustrated... this publication becomes, at once, the first port of call for information about the composer and his music. There are discoveries everywhere. TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT [Paul Griffiths]

The volume includes analyses of many of his important works... supported by beautifully reproduced examples from scores and sketches. [...] Boydell has raised the standard for completeness, annotation, and presentation in retrospective volumes on contemporary composers. SIGNAL TO NOISE


First Published: 20 Apr 2006
13 Digit ISBN: 9781843832119
Pages: 500
Size: 28 x 24
Binding: Hardback
Imprint: Boydell Press
Series: Paul Sacher Foundation
Subject: Music
BIC Class: AV

Details updated on 05 Dec 2014



Elliott Carter

Elliott Carter