Research Output

The transmutation of the ‘old’ with the ‘new’ in the modernist vision of Edgard Varèse.

  In this paper, certain aspects of Varèse's life and work are discussed that have at times, I feel, been overemphasised, distorted, or even omitted, in order to lend greater weight to the depiction of him as a non-European (non-'Old World', non-traditional) and fully American (fully 'New World' radical Modernist, experimentalist) composer. The following article attempts to demonstrate how the past can be felt to resonate in concert with the present and/or future throughout Varèse's oeuvre. Part 1 deals with certain biographical matters, and part 2 focuses more directly on aspects of his works. The following should not be read as an attempt in any way to deny the importance of the USA nor the 'Modern' in Varèse's work, but more to demonstrate that he was an artist at the crossroads of many things old and new and at a time when the world was changing rapidly. This dialectic of the 'Old' (even ancient) and the 'New' can be felt to operate in all of Varèse's works, and to be mindful of this, does I feel bring a vitally different perspective to the place, currency and legitimacy of his art.

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  • Date:

    01 March 2004

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  • Publisher

    Informa UK (Taylor & Francis)

  • DOI:


  • ISSN:



Davismoon, S. (2004). The transmutation of the ‘old’ with the ‘new’ in the modernist vision of Edgard Varèse. Contemporary Music Review. 23, 45-58. doi:10.1080/0749446042000204527. ISSN 0749-4467


Edgard Varese; Composer; Composition; Influences; Old World; New World; Travel;

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