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 Post subject: Zappa's letter to Varese
PostPosted: Sat Nov 18, 2006 2:06 pm 
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A 'mentor' of mine compositionally recently got this HUGE TOME on Edgar Varese's life, and in it is included the letter Zappa sent to Varese.
He emailed me this snippet-

Young Frank Zappa wrote:
"I became more and more interested in you and your music. I began to go to the library and take out books on modern music, to learn all I could about Edgard Varese. It got to be my best subject (your life) and I began to writing my reports and term papers on you at school. At one time when my history teacher asked us to write about an American that has really done something for the U.S.A. I wrote on you and the Pan American Composers League and the New Symphony. I failed. The teacher had never heard of you and said I made the whole thing up. Silly but true. That was in my Sophomore year at school."


Man, reflecting on this, If I ever wrote a letter to Frank, I'd have to say the same thing, almost word for word! :mrgreen: :mrgreen:


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 18, 2006 2:47 pm 
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Wow, FZ sure was one hell of a fanatic when it came to Varèse! Even risking failing some of his subjects when it comes to dishing out his immense respect for the composer.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 18, 2006 3:23 pm 
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I remember being jumped on back in high school because I brought my brand new copy of WEASELS to school so a buddy of mine could take it home and record it.

My homeroom teacher " DON'T EVER BRING THAT CRAP TO CLASS "

asshole he was and probably still is - gawd , I HATED high school :lol:


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 18, 2006 7:42 pm 
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Interesting. According to another part of this letter, Zappa started composing when he was 16..around the time, I suppose, he discovered Varese. He said something to the effect of "I've been composing two years, in a twelve tone style following Anton Webern." And he wrote the letter when he was 18.

I'm pretty sure he said he started when he was 14.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 18, 2006 9:38 pm 
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FeralCats wrote:
... And he wrote the letter when he was 18 ...

According to Rodney Lister, quoting Malcolm MacDonald's book, Zappa wrote that letter when he was 16.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2006 8:24 am 
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This is the letter from which Varese responded "I will be unable to meet you.." Zappa wrote it because he was heading east, on a visit to his Aunt's, when he was 18. (According to his 'Idol Of My Youth', essay)

EDIT:(Actually, never mind, I could be wrong. I was working off of this quote- "When I was eighteen I got a chance to go to the East Coast to visit my Aunt Mary in Baltimore. I had been composing for about four years then but had not heard any of it played. Aunt Mary was going to introduce me to some friend of hers (an Italian gentleman) who was connected with the symphony there. I had planned on making a side trip to mysterious Greenwich Village. During my birthday telephone conversation, Mr. Varese had casually mentioned the possibility of a visit if I was ever in the area. I wrote him a letter when I got to Baltimore, just to let him know I was in the area."- but it could be two entirely seperate letters. In fact, it must be. So don't listen to me.)


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 19, 2006 4:58 pm 
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FeralCats wrote:
This is the letter from which Varese responded "I will be unable to meet you.." Zappa wrote it because he was heading east, on a visit to his Aunt's, when he was 18. (According to his 'Idol Of My Youth', essay)

EDIT:(Actually, never mind, I could be wrong. I was working off of this quote- "When I was eighteen I got a chance to go to the East Coast to visit my Aunt Mary in Baltimore. I had been composing for about four years then but had not heard any of it played. Aunt Mary was going to introduce me to some friend of hers (an Italian gentleman) who was connected with the symphony there. I had planned on making a side trip to mysterious Greenwich Village. During my birthday telephone conversation, Mr. Varese had casually mentioned the possibility of a visit if I was ever in the area. I wrote him a letter when I got to Baltimore, just to let him know I was in the area."- but it could be two entirely seperate letters. In fact, it must be. So don't listen to me.)


Perhaps your "mentor" could clear up things? Maybe even e-mail you the whole letter... That´d be fun to read.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2006 11:24 am 
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Interesting letter. I've been trying to find some of Varese's material on Amazon and it seems there's none of his original records there.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2006 3:43 pm 
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You mean the ones that Zappa owned?
I used to have a vinyl rip of the one Zappa owned, and I can sort of see why he fell in love with it immediatley. It contained Varese's 'smaller' works, which are much easier to digest than say, Ameriques on it's first hearing. Granted, it was also just Zappa's natural affinity, but later in life Zappa showed that those were his favorties..The Rage and The Fury has almost the exact same setlist (except that it adds 'Deserts' (Which was being written and performed while Zappa wrote this letter) and 'Poeme Electronique'.)

If I might make a suggestion, try Pierre Boulez's one disc recording of Varese's works. Boulez never misses a mark on that disk, while the 'complete works' Chailly set messes up some critical parts (Whole themes in Ionisation are near nonexistant.)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2006 7:51 pm 
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Here is Ionisation conducted by N. Slonimsky. I don´t know when it was recorded.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2006 8:06 pm 
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!!!!!
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!BIGMOTHERFUCKINGEXCLAMATIONMARK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

When the hell did that get there? I've geen wandering Ubu for a long time and I've NEVER seen that. Damn.

I 'think' that it was the first recorded version of Ionisation. Makes sense-it is dedicated to him, after all.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2006 8:22 pm 
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I don´t know. I´m relatively new to Ubuweb. That page was what came up when I was looking for interviews with Slonimsky.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2006 9:09 pm 
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u b u

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Nov 22, 2006 10:52 pm 
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Here's the Poeme Electronique Varese & Le Corbusier video in case you missed it.

Thanks for the UBU link too!

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Nov 23, 2006 8:25 am 
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For the EV newcomer, I would suggest the budget-priced Naxos label release. It's a damn good one and at 5 or 6 bucks new it can't be beat.
If ya dig that, continue further. EV's recorded output is so small that it is mandatory to buy nearly all available recordings...


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 24, 2006 10:43 pm 
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Quote:
(except that it adds 'Deserts'


does that version include or exclude the "electronic interpolations."

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 25, 2006 12:40 am 
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FeralCats wrote:
Interesting. According to another part of this letter, Zappa started composing when he was 16..around the time, I suppose, he discovered Varese. He said something to the effect of "I've been composing two years, in a twelve tone style following Anton Webern." And he wrote the letter when he was 18.

I'm pretty sure he said he started when he was 14.


That's when he started MASTURBATING!! :twisted:

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 25, 2006 5:51 am 
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Joe Mama wrote:
Quote:
(except that it adds 'Deserts'


does that version include or exclude the "electronic interpolations."


Yes, that version is complete with the Interpolations (The only proper way to hear the piece...I don't know WHAT Boulez was thinking.)


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 25, 2006 9:25 pm 
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Quote:
Yes, that version is complete with the Interpolations (The only proper way to hear the piece...I don't know WHAT Boulez was thinking.)


good. where the hell did you find this version?

btw, I think Boulez was trying to convey a different side of varese's music, which is to me the equivalent of playing zappa's music without the sex lyrics.

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Last edited by Joe Mama on Sat Nov 25, 2006 11:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 25, 2006 10:56 pm 
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FeralCats wrote:
... the 'complete works' Chailly set messes up some critical parts (Whole themes in Ionisation are near nonexistant ...

Would you mind expanding on that so I can compare notes.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 26, 2006 12:40 am 
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Joe Mama wrote:
btw, I think Boulez was trying to convey a different side of varese's music, which is to me the equivalent of playing zappa's music without the sex lyrics.


Which is understandable, because if you look at Boulez it's obvious that he's never had sex anyway!! :twisted:

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 26, 2006 5:51 am 
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polydigm wrote:
FeralCats wrote:
... the 'complete works' Chailly set messes up some critical parts (Whole themes in Ionisation are near nonexistant ...

Would you mind expanding on that so I can compare notes.


Well, I was exaggerating. :wink:
They're not really 'missing'- they're still there, they just aren't properly enunciated..Boulez gets the point across much clearer, I think.
But on the other hand, I think Boulez accentuates the parts in Arcana Varese quotes from Stravinsky.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 26, 2006 11:41 am 
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Quote:
Which is understandable, because if you look at Boulez it's obvious that he's never had sex anyway!!


France has no shortage of red light districts, and Boulex has no shortage of $$$.

What I basically meant was that I understand what Boulez tried to do, which to me was to display the less "electronic" side of Varese's music, but it kinda changed the whole point of the peice in the process, much like playing "the Mud Shark" as a jazz/blues instrumental changes the point of the peice.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 26, 2006 11:51 am 
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Joe Mama wrote:
France has no shortage of red light districts, and Boulex has no shortage of $$$.

What I basically meant was that I understand what Boulez tried to do, which to me was to display the less "electronic" side of Varese's music, but it kinda changed the whole point of the peice in the process, much like playing "the Mud Shark" as a jazz/blues instrumental changes the point of the peice.


I suppose you're really more referring to one particular aspect of FZ' work. Several of FZ songs that have vocals can work well as instrumentals: "Strictly Genteel", "Duke of Prunes", "Mr Green Genes" and so on. Not so with "fillmore east" F&E stuff.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 26, 2006 4:57 pm 
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Aybe Sea wrote:
... Several of FZ songs that have vocals can work well as instrumentals: "Strictly Genteel", "Duke of Prunes", "Mr Green Genes" and so on. Not so with "fillmore east" F&E stuff.

Why not?

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