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The Music of Edgard Varese (Composers of the Twentieth Century) Hardcover – June, 1987

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Among the most radical composers of this century, Varese has probably had the smallest cult following, compared, say, with Cage, Ives, Schonberg, and the minimalists. As the author points out, Varese also has not directly influenced others. Yet his is a remarkably individual voice, as the works still extant (mostly from 1918 to 1936) attest. Bernard, a student and then colleague at Yale of Allen Forte, general editor of the "Composers of the Twentieth Century" series, shows an innovative approach in his analysis of several works, providing only as much biographical material as seems relevant. Along the way, much light is shed on other movements in the arts, particularly dodecaphony and neoclassicism. A major publication for scholars in 20th-century music. Dominique-Rene de Lerma, Music Dept., Morgan State Univ., Baltimore
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Series: Composers of the Twentieth Century
  • Hardcover: 308 pages
  • Publisher: Yale Univ Pr (June 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300035152
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300035155
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 8.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,775,291 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I looked for this book for twenty years after reading and studying it for a few weeks from the library. Stick with it and maybe you will find a brand new one too, but I doubt it. I just happened to stumble onto it on Amazon, and there it was, and BRAND NEW, FIRST (and only) EDITION. Wowee Zowee.
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Format: Hardcover
Jonathan Bernard finds/locates a useful space to speak about the various dimensions, the functions that makes the music of Varese work. He questions all aspects and revolves many times around the idea of pitch/register. The long now famous flute solo "Density 21.5" captured the sense of strident register in a focus,the beginnings of modernity the machine metal timbres(for the flute is limited in tones,but single tones can be disbursed powefully in repetition/iterations)and this is where the work functions in disbursals of register,for registers displace and come to occupy space, Space came to have meaning for Varese, although his music has a claustrophobic feel, "gefuehl" about it,like the misterioso places in di Chirico; and wherever you are High, Middle, Low is what gives meaning and how the work develops despite its affinity for the static world.The highest registers for example are saved for the climax, here it occurs in the center of the work, so that the music has then "life", "Breath" left to proceed. Varese had smatterings of engineering knowledge and he put it to work, the excitements of the industrial age,of proportions and densities, textures, the complexity of the metropolis, much like Leger,Le Corbusier, Mondrian and prior the necessities of Cubism.
Bernard explores why Varese's music contains so much impacted amounts of tension, much like the focused anxiety of strength of suspension bridges. The melodic geometric shapes as well are explored here as the reiterations of materials, from the more gentle single solo melodic lines to the more lower regions of the brass, muted ugly horns as brutal, tyrannical chordal displays as in "Hyperprism" or the expanded "Deserts "or "Arcana" or in "Ameriques".
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