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The Mystery of Varèse The Music of Edgard Varèse by Jonathan W.

Bernard Review by: Paul Griffiths The Musical Times, Vol. 128, No. 1735 (Sep., 1987), pp. 493-494 Published by: Musical Times Publications Ltd. Stable URL: . Accessed: 09/01/2013 14:52
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and of course totally divorced from any evidence that the music can be aurallyinterpretedin this way. it seems absurdto judge the minor 9th and major7th as 'independententities' when they are related in such an elementary mannerand when the major 7th. What he discovers is symmetry (identical or mirroringalignments of intervals)and the trichord.E .Octandre.Otherwise.then why not in the very literally present G flat major triad? Conversely. for Bernard'sconcern E. and its nearest relations would be those in which one of the pitches was inverted about another: swivellingthe major3rd under the C produces the [4] [7] trichord A flat-C-G. Their explicit isolation in this contextsuggeststhat they areto some extent independententities'.executor of the Varese estate. (F-C-E. And though that task might appearto be simpler in the case of a composer who left only a dozen completed works. Bernard Yale UP (New Havenand London. practical reasons why this should be might not handicapan authorwhoseconcernwas with how Varese's music is heard and understood. is such a dominantfeatureof this score. that analyticforaysinto Varesehave so far explored only the edges of his supreme deserts. One of Bernard's most revealing sentences comes in his third footnote. to with reference one as may be illustrated of his examplesfrom a 24-page 'analysis' of Hyperprism 1). from his to references 'methodology'. it will be possible to analyse them in terms of set theory. For example. ISBN 0 300 03515 2 A pattern is emerging among these Yale studies of 20th-centurycomposersunder the general editorship of Allen Forte: perhaps. tonal functions is perhaps not to be countedagainstthe integrityof the system: indeed. he is similarly in pursuit of the golden key. a hindrance to the deriving of generalities. necessarily. 9 Jan 2013 14:52:36 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Though he departsfrom Perle and from his teacher Forte. if difficulty it be. as Bernardquickly points out.and in that casehis workstands deeply imperilledby the Chou interdict: a single scrap of paper could support or undermine his whole thesis.this latteran intriguingpersonalvariationon the Fortean set whereby interval is more sacred than interval class. and that during that period is not with Varese's technique any more than it is with any sharedresponseto the fruitsof thattechnique: concernis with his how Varese's music may be 'analysed'. There are. ?32. course. where he pointsout that ChouWen-chung. If significanceis to be found in things 'not literally present' or present 'in potential only' . when a few more have been published. and it is hard to see how it could be accomplished without some recourse psychoacoustical to studieswhich he never attempts.Vareseis still virgin territory.50.and if it were 493 This content downloaded on Wed. aimwould his seem to be that of elucidatinghow Varese composed. 272pp. cl. But perhapsnot. E-G-D. When one recallsthat Varesedied 22 years ago. Bernardshows quite persuasively that many brief passagesin Varesecan be analysedin termsof the 'infolding'and 'unfolding'of trichordsin this manner. or. Finally. in particular.significance that does not extendbeyondthese few bars . Bernard'sobservationhere can only be 'accountedfor' in termsof methodological blinkers that keep him from seeing anything but his own symmetries and trichordfoldings... The havoc that these operationswreakon ed as derivatives of a [1] [8] that is not literally present. Also present. Of this he remarks (ex. However. that '[1] [9] and [1] [7] .and there is the furtherdifficulty. or inversions of these E-G-G sharp). the principleor set of principles that will 'account for' the notes. it must be said at once. are derivative-related [7] and [3] [3] [10].Integrales turnal) and an article on lonisation. one similarly canderivethe [7] [3] trichord C-G-B flat and the [1] [3] trichord C-C sharp-E. Instead.The Mystery of Varese Paul Griffiths The Music of Edgard Varese by JonathanW.. But for the moment Jonathan Bernard's book on Varese can be placed lower on the scale of systematic comprehensiveness than Pieter van den Toorn's monumentum pro Stravinsky.More than any other centralcomposer of this century. Bernard is unable to keep himself from pushing his theory too far. the last two pitched events of the passageare single intervals: [13] and [11]. this Of embargois scandalous.G would be classed as a [4] [3] trichord. 'has ruled out the possibility of anyone else's gaining access to this material [all of the sketches and until he has almostall of the manuscripts] finishedhis long-planned studyof Varese's music'. xxiv. the smallness of the sample is.but Bernardnever statesthis to be his task. 1987). can be regard- [31 17] 131 [10] group of practicesmaintainedthroughout the oeuvre.even while it sharesthe same urge to explain the notes in terms of a Chou has publishedonly four editions(of and NocAmeriques.It is a neat and beguiling performance.that it was composedwith such connectionsin mind. the rootposition triad C . in potential only. Quite clearly this will not do.

iii: the Oratorio in the Classical Era by Howard E. R/1987). 166pp. n.Bernardunderplaysthe importancein Vareseof the unprecedented.not to say mystique . 1987). 398pp. n. Hfl. 210pp.p. Boethius (Clarabricken. 1987). 48pp.. ISBN 0 297 79075 7 Creative Piano Teaching by James Lyke and Yvonne Enoch.A. Aldeburgh Foundation/Britten-Pears Library (Aldeburgh. xiv. 1987). ISBN 906959 06 3 Grosses Sangerlexikon.xx. 241pp. Mind and Self by David H. 1987). Clarendon (Oxford. 147pp.which may only BOOKS RECEIVED A Book for Music Teachers: Music. at the top of the pesante music for horns and trombones. n. 1987). Nancy R.x... Music and books bought.. 192pp..1987 compiled by Rosamund Strode. 1987).xiv. Smither. 80pp. This book by Jonathan Bernard is the first comprehensive study of Varese's oeuvre.. R1986). whereit pushes the music's pitch space out a further semitone.. viii. for dealing which with this domain[rhythm/duration] dispersesome of the mystery .p. 242pp.95. Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London. ?19.. Philadelphia. 335pp. 573pp.not to say mystique . xv.95. 80pp.3/1987).until it is addedin the piccolo's trill at the very end.58..1900 by J. ISBN 0 521 32780 6 Gollancz(LonStravinsky by AndreBoucourechliev... 1987). Details from the AmericanChoralFoundation. Boethius (Clarabricken.not in particularfor his distaste for the principle of octaveequivalence. ISBN 0 7145 4095 1 Music and Society: the Politics of Composition.95 paper. xxvi. $6.Pieter van den Toorn Composers of the Twentieth Century 304pp. 1987). Faber(London. 16)... 387pp.Marion S..495pp. 1987). ISBN 0 86287 376 2 German Song and its Poetry: 1740 . ?18. ISBN 0 19 311927 7 A History of Music (1830)by W. Francke(Berne. Carolina." . Pennsylvania 19103. and A flat is also excluded from the work's three massivechords.i and ii by K. DM330/FF275. or when more sophisticated modes of analysis are essayed. . ?1. vol. 1987).p.he might have made something of the strange uncommonness of the pitch class A flat in this work: there is none until that in the example above (in bar 22). ISBN 0 7099 4407 1 W. songs. xxii. ISBN 0 571 14720 8 Die Orgeln der Hauptkirche St Michaelis zu Hamburg by Giinter Seggermann. ?14. v. 198pp. 2/1987). Stipes (Illinois. ISBN 0 575 03736 9 Studies edited by AlexanderSilbiger. 711pp. 48pp.95. Cirillo. ? analysisof Hyperprism which the word 'march' does not appear must give some cause for concern.50 paper.90. Performance and Reception edited by Richard UP Leppertand SusanMcClary. ISBN 0 19 315257 6 The Unknown Puccini by Michael Kaye. x. ISBN 0 86314 112 9 Substance of Several Courses of Lectures on Music (1831) by William Crotch (ClassicTexts in Music Education. "This book will figure as an essential contribution for students of Varese and twentieth-century music. 1987). miniature scores etc.50 YALE UNIVERSITY PRESS 13 Bedford Square * London WClB3JF 730 17 CECIL COURT LONDON WC2N 4EZ Tel: 01-240 2129 442 494 This content downloaded on Wed.1987).50. The powerfully original music of Edgard Varese (1883-1965) has been widely recognised as a major influence upon musical composition since the end of World War II. 557pp. ISBN 3 7954 0668 4 Criticism by Hans Keller. 355pp. Perpetua(Oxford. vol.. 1987). xiv.p. in For instance. Croom Helm (New York.Cambridge (Cambridge. free on request.1986). Boethius (Clarabricken.surroundingit'.R1985). viii..251 South 18th Street. Boethius(Clarabricken.95. Rodopi (Amsterdam. Bravura(Hindhead.J. 152pp.95. don. 9 Jan 2013 14:52:36 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . xiv. ISBN 0 86314 045 9 School Music Abroad (1879-1901) by J. ISBN 0 86314 046 7 Music of Forty Festivals: Albeburgh 1948 . ISBN 0 934009 01 5 Alan Rawsthorne: Essays on the Music. Mozart: Cosi fan tutte a new translationby Anne Ridler of Da Ponte's libretto.. . TRAVIS The Music of JONATHAN BERNARD Edgard Varese EMERY MusicandMusicalLiterature Vocal scores. Faber (London. One might rather conclude that his techniques elegantly extend the mystery begin to be dispersed when Chou's material is made public. Smeed. Hale (London.1987). Frescobaldi Duke UP (Durham. OxfordUP'(New York.xxiv. ISBN 90 6203 709 7 A History of the Salzburg Festival by Stephen Gallup.trombonesolo towards the end. 202pp.15). ?35/$49.. 362pp..C.?22. ?49. Lane. ISBN 0 86314 114 5 Music and Education (1848) by Joseph Mainzer (Classic Texts in Music Education.' 18).p. 174pp. USA. Stafford(Classic Texts in Music Education.p. ISBN 37005 45975 Music of the Common Tongue: Survival and Celebration in Afro-American Music by ChristopherSmall. Miller.Columbus (London. ?30. 3452pp. Spencer Curwen and John Hullah (Classic Texts in Music R1985).n.. n. 1987). Presser(BrynMawr. books on music and musicians. N.. ?35..xii. 1987).?25. 1987).95. ?25. iii edited by Alan Poulton. ?4. ISBN 0 7090 3049 5 Debussy Letters selected and edited by Francois Lesure and Roger Nichols.50 Sound Recording Practice editedby JohnBorwick. R1986). n.. ISBN 0 571 14803 4 Beethovens Wiener Originalverleger by Friedrich Slezak. Cataloguesissued. 12).50. Education. ISBN 0 9511939 1 0 The Choral Music of Christopher Le Fleming is the subject of a special issue of American Choral Review(xxviii/3) which includes a survey by David FrancisUrrows and a list of works. But he may also underplayVarese'sallusions to what was very much precedented. and in the horn .x. especiallyin view of the author'sclaim to have found 'techniques .W. ?2. 1987). Shaw. ISBN 3 317 01638 8 Wagner in Retrospect: a Centennial Reappraisal editedby Leroy R. Calder(London. 157 musical examples ?32. ISBN 8223 0711 1 Leaves from an A Mingled Chime: Autobiography by Sir Thomas Beecham.. ?5.. ISBN 0 19 385745 6 Sergei Prokofiev by Harlow Robinson. Kutsch and Leo Riemens. vols. ?39. For similar reasons Bernard makesno comment on the prominenceof F sharp:in the flute solo.108pp.FranzDeuticke(Vienna. Schnell & Steiner (Munich. instrumental and choral music. Oxford UP (New York. And surely the newness of this last sectionowes somethingto the factthat F the emphasized sharpand C herearepitches that have not been heard before in the piece: busying himself so much with relationships. 246pp.. . ISBN 0 87563 297 1 A History of the Oratorio.?45.