EDGARD VARÈSE (1883 - 1965)
Preferring the concept of organised sound to that of music, the French-born composer Edgard Varèse exercised a strong influence on the contemporary avant-garde. This was particularly so in the United States, where he spent some time from 1915 until 1928, when he returned to Paris. He went back to America in 1933, eventually finding the necessary backing for his electro-acoustic research. He enjoyed an earlier career as a conductor of some distinction, but he is now remembered chiefly for his experimental composition and for the influence his work exerted over younger composers.
Varèse made an early impression with his Offrandes for soprano and small orchestra in 1921 and the remarkable Octandre for wind instruments and double bass, first heard in New York in 1924. Later organised sound included Ionisation for 13 percussionists (completed in 1931) and Déserts (completed in 1954), with its combination of instrumental performance and recorded tape.