Edgard Varese was born in Paris and studied composition there. He came to the United States at the age of thirty-two. He is considered an American composer. In most of his works, he used the spelling “Edgar”, but later used the French spelling “Edgard”. Varese was one of the most original composers. He was not satisfied with traditional instruments or the tempered scale of twelve equal half steps to the octave. He thought of his music as structures in sound. He did not think there was a need for the human performer.
Varese had the idea that the music should not be changed from its intended message. He thought that by people playing sheet music, the music was slightly deformed from its original version. He figured that to do this, the composer’s score would be transferred to an electric machine. From then on, anyone would be able to press a button to play the music exactly as the composer had written it.
To Varese, music is spatial. He thought of musical sounds as masses in space. In his playing he would no longer use the old conception of melody or interplay of melodies. In Varese’s music, there are sustained sounds, sliding sounds, and certain favorite percussion sounds.