Edgard Varèse

Edgard Varèse
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 relating pitches to the behaviour of atomic particles, star constellations and spiritualism. 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.