Creating a God: The Reception of Edgard Varèse

Carol J. Oja

in Making Music Modern

Published in print December 2000 | ISBN: 9780195058499
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199865031 | DOI:
Creating a God: The Reception of Edgard Varèse

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When Edgard Varèse arrived in New York City in the midst of World War I, he joined the wave of European immigrants that also brought Ernest Bloch, E. Robert Schmitz, and Dane Rudhyar. His work ultimately may have come to define an important strain in the history of American music, but his European origins provided a strong international identity that he maintained throughout his career. Historians of 20th-century music assessed Varèse's work with an exceptionally serious tone. But it is the collective weight of the Varèse bibliography that makes the biggest statement, including the valuable (if incomplete) memoirs of his wife Louise, as well as a growing series of studies produced by music theorists and historians. What has been forgotten is the degree to which this admiration for Varèse took shape from his earliest years in New York. Far from being ignored or harshly criticized during the 1910s and 1920s, as legend has it Varèse was put on a pedestal. He became the matinee idol of modernism.

Keywords: Edgard Varèse; New York City; modernism; modernist music; composers; conductors; orchestras

Chapter.  8181 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: American Music

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