Edgard Varèse: The Most Epic Interview You’ll Ever Hear about the Ultimate Maverick / by Claire Chase

via Q2 Music

Published: January 2, 2015

Edgard Varèse is one of the most visionary and influential musical mavericks of all time. Arriving in the United States from France in 1915, Varèse became a central figure in the promotion of new music – founding the International Composers Guild and mounting numerous performances – and a volcanic, uncompromising pioneer in modern and electronic music.

In this far-reaching, three-hour interview, guest host Claire Chase (flutist and co-artistic director of the International Contemporary Ensemble) speaks with Chou Wen-chung,Varèse's long-time assistant and confidant. In addition to being a composer himself, Chou is the current executor of the late composer's music and resident of the former Varèse homestead in Greenwich Village. The interview audio contains complete recordings of many of Varèse's works, in performances chosen by Chou.

Chou addresses harmful misconceptions and longstanding rumors about Varèse, how he became devoted to a mentor whose music he initially compared to the "slaughtering of a hog," and what meanings lay beneath the late composer's wish to have music that "will flow as a river flows."  


Tuning Up
Poème électronique  
Density 21.5

Recordings included above courtesy of London/Decca's "Varèse: The Complete Works" (1998) with Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra / Asko Ensemble under the direction of Riccard Chailly and Deutsche Grammophon's "Boulez Conducts Varèse" with Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Pierre Boulez.

GUESTS: Wen-chung Chou

HOSTED BY: Claire Chase

EDITORS: Curtis Macdonald