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Edgard Victor Achille Charles Varèse (Varese, Edgard)

Born: 1883 AD
Died: 1965 AD, at 81 years of age.

Nationality: French
Categories: Composers, Musicians


1883 - Edgard Victor Achille Charles Varèse, born on the 22nd of December in in Paris, but after only a few weeks was sent to be raised by his great-uncle's family in the small town of Villars in Burgundy. He was an innovative French-born composer who spent the greater part of his career in the USA.

1893 - He was forced to relocate to Turin, Italy. It was here that he had his first real musical lessons, with the long-time director of Turin's conservatory, Giovanni Bolzoni.

1904 - He was a student at the Schola Cantorum (founded by pupils of César Franck), where his teachers included Albert Roussel; afterwards he went to study composition with Charles Widor at the Paris Conservatoire.

1905 - He composed a number of ambitious orchestral works, but these were only performed by Varèse in piano transcriptions, such as his Rhapsodie romane.

1907 - He moved to Berlin and in the same year married the actress Suzanne Bing. They had one child, a daughter.

1910 - His first performance of his symphonic poem Bourgogne in Berlin, the only one of his early orchestral works to be properly performed, caused a scandal.

1917 - Made his debut in America conducting the Grand Messe des Morts by Berlioz.

1921 - Began work on his first composition in the United States, Amériques, which was finished.

1922 - Visited Berlin where he founded a similar German organisation with Busoni.

1927 - He took American citizenship in October.

1928 - Returned to Paris to alter one of the parts in Amériques to include the recently constructed Ondes Martenot.

1930 - He composed his most famous non-electronic piece entitled Ionisation, the first to feature solely percussion instruments. Although it was composed with pre-existing instruments, Ionisation was an exploration of new sounds and methods to create them.

1933 - He wrote to the Guggenheim Foundation and Bell Laboratories in an attempt to receive a grant to develop an electronic music studio.

1934 - His next composition, Ecuatorial, was completed, contained parts for fingerboard theremin cellos, and Varèse, anticipating the successful receipt of one of his grants, eagerly returned to the United States to finally realize his electronic music.

1936 - He wrote Density 21.5.

1962 - He was asked to join the Royal Swedish Academy.

1963 - He received the premier Koussevitzky International Recording Award.

1965 - Died on the 8th of November in New York City.


Page last updated: 1:34am, 25th May '07