This brings me back to the "seemingly endless round of |Well, I hear it this way' and Cwell, I hear it that way,'" (The Music of Edgard Varese
, 128; "Varese Bound," 248 and 251; "Cracked Octaves," 278-79), because I think that it defines the Kuhnian divide.
Meanwhile the most rewarding way that I can recommend reading Jonathan Bernard's The Music of Edgard Varese
is as one person's highly individual interpretation of the music.
But the question remains whether a book entitled The Music of Edgard Varese
should treat the composer as an icon of late twentieth-century music or as a composer in his own time (not "ahead of his time," a designation he always rejected).
The following chapter, "The Community of the Ultramoderns," returns to the mavericks, profiling Edgard Varese
, Carl Ruggles, Charles Seeger, and Henry Cowell briefly, but its real focus is on the development of self-organizing societies of musicians.
The moving-image element, clocking in at exactly sixty seconds, consists of brilliant post card views of a rocky, tundra-coated Norwegian hillside and is set to music by French composer Edgard Varese
that feels like a sci-fi movie score (in the movie's final frames, stems and flowers push their way through the ground at time-lapse speed).
Georges Charbonnier's conversations with Edgard Varese
(1970) Pierre Bougeade's with Man Ray (1972), Alain Bosquet's with Salvador Dali (1983), Claude Samuel's with Olivier Messiaen (1986), and Pascal Vrebos' with Henry Miller (1991), as well as many others.
Indeed, the only unifying element in this disparate collection--which includes musique concrete by Pierre Schaeffer, Nam June Paik, and John Cage; electronic music by Henri Pousseur, Edgard Varese
, lannis Xenakis, and Pauline Oliveros; and experiments by rock bands like Einsturzende Neubauten--may be the alteration of sounds after their initial generation.
Higgins includes ten pages excerpted from Cowell's unpublished manuscript "The Nature of Melody," four sections from the out-of-print American Composers on American Music (Cowell on Charles Ives, Charles Seeger, Edgard Varese
, and John J.
The c onfrontation of nature with human-made products continues in part four, which concentrates on music of Carl Ruggles, Edgard Varese
, Harry Partch, Steve Reich, and Peter Sculthorpe, and how their lives and compositions reflect the increasingly ecological focus of artistic expressions.
The center of the exhibit consisted of a reconstruction of Walter and Louise Arensberg's main studio in their apartment at 33 West 67th Street, which served as a nightly gathering, drinking, and partying place for European artists who had sought refuge from World War I in New York (Marcel Duchamp, Francis Picabia, Jean Crotti, Albert Gleizes and Juliette Roche, Edgard Varese
, Henri-Pierre Roche, Arthur Cravan) as well as for young American artists (Man Ray, Charles Demuth, John Covert, Arthur Dove, Morton Schamberg, Charles Sheeler, Joseph Stella, and Beatrice Wood).
To gauge his considerable influence on twentieth-century musical practice, consider that his instruments have been heard in diverse contexts, both "low" and "high," including "Good Vibrations" by the Beach Boys, Ecuatorial by Edgard Varese
, and Final Alice by David Del Tredici.
We would dine together at Pierre Matisse's, on East 96th Street, along with Matta, Le Corbusier, the filmmaker Thomas Bouchard, Rufino Tamayo, the composer Edgard Varese
and his wife Louise (the translator), and Jose Luis Sert.