Edgard Varèse was an independent spirit who was constantly searching out completely new sounds. Almost a century ago, in the 1920s, he began experimenting with new playing techniques and unconventional combinations of instruments. Because he refused to compromise and was a perfectionist, the oeuvre he left was small and could easily fit onto two CDs. Nonethless, he had a tremendous impact, and Varèse profoundly influenced not only Igor Stravinsky, Pierre Boulez and Karlheinz Stockhausen, but Frank Zappa was also influenced by his idiosyncratic music.
Varèse spatially positioned his musicians in various places. He was partial to cranking up the decibels and his music is best listened to in a live setting. Unfortunately, there are too few opportunities because concerts of his music require a highly unusual arrangement of many percussionists and wind players. Sirens wail in Ionisation and electronic music is heard in Désert. Dozens of master students from the Royal Conservatory have been brought together especially for this edition of the Dag in de Branding Festival and under the baton of Christian Karlsen they will perform Varèse’s ground-breaking masterpieces in Korzo. This is an opportunity not to be missed.
Photo: © Archive of the Stockhausen Foundation for Music, Kürten, Germany (www.karlheinzstockhausen.org)