Edgard Varèse (1885-1965)
Edgard Varèse is admirable for having been uncompromisingly forward-thinking. Many people in his time did not like his music because they did not listen to it on its own terms.
I am fascinated by the way he produced fixed sound masses that pass between consonance and scrunchy dissonance, by linking music, physics and metaphysics: relating pitches to the behaviour of atomic particles, star constellations and the spiritualism of ‘primitivistic’ cultures. Driven by a fascination with timbre and what it could represent in abstract terms, he was drawn to electronics – then in their infancy, struggling to make machines reproduce what he heard in his head.
Varèse is unique. A towering composer of towering music. Listen to Déserts (1950-54), Arcana (1927) and Amériques (1921) for example.