Composers of Today: A Comprehensive Biographical and Critical Guide to Modern Composers of All Nations

By David Ewen | Go to book overview
Henry Cowell analyzes Varèse's technique: "His music is acrid and telling, with a magnificent hardness of line. . . . Varèse does not ignore melody and harmony, but merely does away with them on occasion. He limits himself almost exclusively to harmonies containing strong dissonances. . . . One may, therefore, say that he has developed for himself a rule that such dissonant intervals are requisite for the harmonic fabric he desires. . . . Melody, when Varèse uses it, is often characterized by wide skips, broken sometimes by chromatic passages." Edgar Varèse lives in New York City, where he is chairman of the Pan- American Association of Composers, and where he devotes some time to the teaching of composition to talented pupils. He is an enormous admirer of Gregorian chants and Byzantine music; his favorite works are those produced by sixteenth-century composers. He also feels that the music world will some day realize that Beethoven is a far greater composer than Bach. Among the moderns, he prefers Malipiero, Webern, Schönberg and Béla Bartók."I refuse to take into consideration the ephemeral qualities in any work, its showy tricks intended for the diversion of idle snobs and esthetes, which win for it its epithet of modern," he informs us. "In art there is only that which has existed sooner or later. There are no modern or ancient works but only those which exist in the present. Ideas change and with them their medium of expression. In the works of today and in those which have preceded them the same elements and principles are common to all. The composer should not be held responsible if habit and mental laziness prevent some people from following the process of perpetual transformation of these elements and principles and make them wish to stop this pitiless movement and to substitute, for these elements and principles, stereotype formulas."He feels that he could be most happy tending to a vineyard and producing his own wine. Otherwise, he feels that more than anything else he would like to have a laboratory at his disposal where he could do research in acoustics and in the manufacture of new types of instruments.Principal works by Edgar Varse:
LARGE ORCHESTRA : Trois Pièces; Rhapsodie Romane; Bourgogne; Mehr Licht; Gargantua; Ameriques; Arcana; Espace.
CHAMBER ORCHESTRA OR INSTRUMENTAL ENSEMBLES: Offrandes (vocal); Hyperprism; Octandre; Intégrales; Ionisation; Equatorial.

About Edgar Varèse:

Cowell Henry. American Composers on American Music; Rosenfeld Paul. An Hour with American Music.

Important recordings of music by Edgar Varèse:

COLUMBIA: Ionisation (Slonimsky).


Ralph Vaughan-Williams 1872-

RALPH VAUGHAN-WILLIAMS, in the front rank of modern English composers, was born on October 12, 1872 in Down Ampney, Gloucestershire. His father, a clergyman, was financially independent, and so Vaughan-Williams was from the first placed in the enviable position of being under no necessity to learn a vocation. Endowed with unusual musical talent, he was permitted to follow an intensive course of study. Academic courses were followed at Trinity College, Cambridge, from 1892 to 1895. At the same time, the bulk of his music-study was pursued at the Royal College of Music under Parry and Stanford.

In 1896, Vaughan-Williams left the Royal College of Music, and that same year he visited Bayreuth and heard Wagner's music-dramas for the first time--a soul-stirring experience. Still under no necessity of earning a living, he returned to England and continued his study of music, holding at the same time unimportant positions as organist and lecturer of music at the University Extension. In 1901, he received his doctorate in music at Cambridge.

His interest in the folk music of England, a life-long passion with him, dates from his student years. Finding a particular fascination in these poignant folksongs, Vaughan-Williams became a member of the Folk-Song Society and, after some research in this field, made

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Composers of Today: A Comprehensive Biographical and Critical Guide to Modern Composers of All Nations
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Books of the Same Author ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Introduction vii
  • Key to Pronunciations xiv
  • Joseph Achron 1886- 1
  • George Antheil 1900- 3
  • Kurt Atterberg 1887- 4
  • Louis Aubert 1877- 6
  • Georges Auric 1899- 7
  • Granville Bantock 1868- 8
  • Béla Bartók 1881- 10
  • Arnold Bax 1883- 15
  • Robert Russell Bennett 1894- 16
  • Lord Berners 1883. 20
  • Julius Bittner 1874- 22
  • Arthur Bliss 1891- 23
  • Marc Blitzstein 1905- 24
  • Ernest Bloch 1880- 25
  • Rutland Boughton 1878- 26
  • Walter Braunfels 1882- 29
  • Frank Bridge 1879- 31
  • Alfred Bruneau 1857-1934 32
  • Charles Wakefield Cadman 1881- 35
  • Alfredo Casella 1883- 36
  • Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco 1895- 38
  • Juan José Castro 1895- 40
  • Gustave Charpentier 1860. 41
  • Frederick Shepherd Converse 1871- 46
  • Henry Cowell 1897- 49
  • Sir Frederic H. Cowen 1852- 51
  • Sir Walford Davies 1869- 53
  • Claude Debussy 1862-1918 55
  • Frederick Delius 1863-1934 56
  • Ernst Von Dohnányi 1877. 60
  • Arcady Dubensky 1890- 62
  • Paul Dukas 1865- 64
  • Paul Dupin 1865- 67
  • Georges Enesco 1881- 68
  • Manuel De Falla .1876- 70
  • Gabriel Fauré 1845-1924 72
  • Henri Gagnebin 1886- 79
  • Philippe Gaubert 1879- 80
  • George Gershwin 1898- 80
  • Umberto Giordano 1867- 82
  • Alexander Glazunov 1865- 84
  • Reinhold Glière 1874- 86
  • Michael Gniessin 1883- 90
  • Paul Graener 1872- 91
  • Percy Grainger 1882- 93
  • Alexander Gretchaninoff 1864- 94
  • Louis Gruenberg 1883- 96
  • Alois Hába 1893- 98
  • Henry Hadley 1871- 99
  • Reynaldo Hahn 1874- 101
  • Howard Hanson 1896- 103
  • Sandor Harmati 1892- 104
  • Roy Harris 1898- 106
  • Edward Burlingame Hill 1872- 110
  • Paul Hindemith 1895- 112
  • Gustav Holst 1874-1934 115
  • Arthur Honegger 1892- 117
  • Herbert Howells 1892- 119
  • Jacques Ibert 1890- 120
  • Vincent D'Indy 1851-1931 122
  • Michael Ippolitov-Ivanov 1859- 123
  • John Ireland 1879- 125
  • Frederick Jacobi 1891- 128
  • Leoš Janáček 1854-1928 130
  • Werner Janssen 1900- 131
  • Joseph Jongen 1873. 133
  • Werner Josten 1888- 134
  • Paul Juon 1872- 135
  • Heinrich Kaminski 1886- 136
  • Wilhelm Kienzl 1857- 139
  • Lyof Knipper 1898- 140
  • Zoltan Kodály 1882- 141
  • Erich Wolfgang Korngold 1897- 142
  • A. Walter Kramer 1890- 147
  • Alexander Kreyn 1883- 148
  • Ladislas Lajtha 1892- 151
  • Constant Lambert 1905- 151
  • Charles Martin Loeffler 1861- 152
  • Nikolai Lopatnikoff 1903- 153
  • Igor Markevitch 1912- 157
  • Frank Martin 1890- 159
  • Bohuslav Martinu 1890- 161
  • Joseph Marx 1882- 162
  • Pietro Mascagni 1863- 164
  • Daniel Gregory Mason 1873- 165
  • Nikolai Medtner 1880- 167
  • Nikolai Miaskovsky 1881- 168
  • Georges Migot 1891- 170
  • Darius Milhaud 1892- 171
  • Italo Montemezzi 1875- 175
  • Harold Morris 1890- 176
  • Alexander Mossolov 1900- 177
  • Leo Ornstein 1895- 179
  • Ignace Jan Paderewski 1860- 181
  • Hans Pfitzner 1869- 185
  • Willem Pijper 1894- 189
  • Paul Pisk 1893- 191
  • Walter Piston 1894- 192
  • Ildebrando Pizzetti 1880- 193
  • Francis Poulenc 1899- 194
  • John Powell 1882- 196
  • Serge Prokofieff 1891- 198
  • Henri Rabaud 1873- 199
  • Serge Rachmaninoff 1873- 201
  • Maurice Ravel 1875- 205
  • Rhené-Baton 1879- 210
  • Wallingford Riegger 1885. 212
  • Vittorio Rieti 1898- 213
  • Roger-Ducasse 1875- 215
  • Dane Rudhyar 1895- 218
  • Carl Ruggles 1876- 220
  • Victor De Sabata 1892- 221
  • Lazare Saminsky 1882- 224
  • Ernest Schelling 1876- 226
  • Joseph Schillinger 1895- 228
  • Max Von Schillings 1868-1933 230
  • Florent Schmitt 1870. 232
  • Arnold Schönberg 1874- 234
  • Cyril Scott 1879- 238
  • Alexander Scriabin 1871-1915 240
  • Bernhard Sekles 1872- 242
  • Roger Sessions 1896- 245
  • Dmitri Shostakowitch 1906- 246
  • Christian Sinding 249
  • Leone Sinigaglia 1868- 252
  • David Stanley Smith 1877­ 253
  • Leo Sowerby 1895- 255
  • William Grant Still 1895- 256
  • Albert Stoessel 1894- 258
  • Richard Strauss 1864- 259
  • Igor Stravinsky 1882- 260
  • Edwin J. Stringham 1890- 268
  • Alexander Tansman 1897- 270
  • Deems Taylor 1885- 271
  • Alexander Tcherepnine 1899- 273
  • Nikolai Tcherepnine 1873- 275
  • Virgil Thomson 1896- 276
  • Ernest Toch 1887- 278
  • Vincenzo Tommasini 1880- 279
  • Joaquin Turina 1882. 281
  • Edgar Varèse 1885- 283
  • Ralph Vaughan-Williams 1872- 284
  • Hector Villa-Lobos 1886- 286
  • H. Waldo-Warner 1874- 288
  • William Walton 1902- 290
  • Anton Webern 1883- 291
  • Kurt Weill 1900- 292
  • Jaromir Weinberger 1896- 295
  • Leo Weiner 1885- 296
  • Adolph Weiss 1891- 298
  • Egon Wellesz 1885- 300
  • Alexander Weprik .1899- 301
  • Riccardo Zandonai 1883- 305
  • Bibliography of Modern Music 309
  • Index 313
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