Edgard Varese (英語) ペーパーバック – 2002/7
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One of the principal architects of 20th-century thought, Edgard Varese remains the most original and adventurous of modern-day classical composers.
Amid the huge leaps forward in the modern sciences taken at the turn of the century, Varese headed the vanguard of intellectual thinking that helped to shape the modern world. With a revered following of such contemporary musical luminaries as Igor Stravinsky, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Charlie Parker and Frank Zappa, he was a key artistic influence in the last century. His most renowned opus, Ionisation, was described in the New York Times as a `terrible and marvellous work', while Deserts caused as much uproar at its 1954 premiere as Le Sacre Du Printemps had in the same Paris theatre half a century earlier.
This book, written by rock biographer Alan Clayson, is the single worst musical biography I've ever read. Clayson is better known for his tomes on the Beatles, including the popular Backbeat, which told the story of the Beatles' early years in Germany. Unfortunately, he brings the same gossipy qualities and rock-magazine journalist prose to this enterprise and the results are really poor. The facts of Varese's life are basically not very exciting. Like most composers, Varese's profession was solitary and, in his case, marked by extended periods of inaction. Clayson is reduced to creating imaginative scenes and undocumented reactions in an effort to "spice" up the biographical skeleton. He also injects his own opinions into the narrative liberally, ascribing to Varese contempt for more popular composers like Copland that is not bourn out by the facts. And he reserves a chapter and a half for Frank Zappa, a figure that, though he was indeed a great proponent of the composer, never met the man.
All of this would be merely annoying but could be justified if Clayson had anything of interest to say about Varese's compositions. After all, the most interesting thing about a composer is always the music. But Clayson is mind-numbingly braindead when it comes to speaking about music. There is no analysis of the works in question. Rather, Clayson is given to speaking in purple prose about his dubious impressions of the compositions. Ameriques in particular is subjected to ridiculous treatment, as Clayson blathers on about "the otherworldly deliberation of a dream's slow motion in its paranormal and fragmented mindscapes of frontier forts and wide white spaces on a map of emptiness." Often, Clayson seems proud of his musical ignorance, as he ridicules theorists subjecting works like Density 21.5 to analysis, as if the desire to study a seminal modern score is somehow base.
The shame of it is that Varese is a composer that is endlessly fascinating, even given his very small surviving output. No follower of the "isms" of the 20th century, Varese made his own way, and indeed proved prophetic. He was an early and enthusiastic pioneer in electronic music and predicted the day when performers would be replaced by machines capable of directly communicating a composer's thought to an audience, something that, for better or worse, is increasingly common in these days of MIDI. And his attitude toward music as organized sound has had wide-ranging influence in the world of 20th century composition and even experimental rock. All of this is makes the composer a fruitful subject for a comprehensive biography. Someday, someone with ability will attempt the biography I've been waiting for. Until that day, Clayson's book is all we've got. My suggestion is to be patient and don't waste your money on this drivel.