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philips pavilion (1958)
¬ in 1956, le corbusier was engaged by the philips corporation to construct a pavilion at the brussels world fair. «i will make you a poème électronique,» he wrote, «everything will happen inside: sounds, light, color, rhythm...» involved for some time in visual acoustics, le corbusier, who also engaged xenakis, wrote to varèse, «the illumination will allow flashing drawings to be made from time to time, but occupying space with a striking presence... it will be the first truly electric work with symphonic power.»
¬ the fantastic pavilion, opened in 1958 (with some two million visitors), «ultimately functioned as a giant speaker enclosure and screen for projection and illumination.» varèse had a long familiarity with experimental music - from bartok and berg to the futurists and leon theremin - and produced for the pavilion his poème électronique, a tape composition for some 425 speakers and 20 amplifier combinations. the speakers provided «a spectacle of light and sound [with] "sound routes" to achieve various effects such as that of music running around the pavilion, as well as coming from different directions, reverberations, etc. for the first time, i heard my music litterally projected into space.»
txt source: timothy druckrey - chaos pilots/event-horizons, in: granular synthesis cat., biennale of venice 2001.
¬ when the philips company asked le corbusier to design its pavilion for the universal exposition of brussels to take place in 1958, the great architect insisted on having music by varèse. philips was very reluctant, preferring a better known and more spectacular composer, but le corbusier threatened to withdraw from the project if varèse did not get the comission. thus on one of the rare occasions in his life varèse was able to compose freely without any technical or financial restrictions. philips allowed him to work in their eindhoven laboratory with their technicians and sound engineers. at the age of 77, varèse immersed himself once again body and soul in the adventure of composition. the universal exposition was a huge success, and thousands of people heard varèse for the first time. a new generation of composers - from konrad boehmer to frank zappa, via miles davis and charlie parker - became aware of a radically new way of composing.
txt source: an anthology of noise & electronic music. sub rosa 160.
anthology of noise & electronic music (sub rosa sr160)
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