Edgard Varese & Le Corbusier

Poème Electronique, 1958
composed by EDGARD VARESE with images conceived by LE CORBUSIER

In 1956 the Philips Company of Holland commissioned the architect LE CORBUSIER to design a pavilion for the 1958 World’s Fair in Brussels. LE CORBUSIER conceived the notion of an “electronic poem” and insisted that EDGARD VARESE be his collaborator. The original form of the work was scored for four hundred loudspeakers which covered the inside of the structure; while LE CORBUSIER‘s “light show” of visual imagery was projected across the irregular, flowing interior surfaces, the complex of electronically organized and manipulated sound was moved across these same surfaces by an elaborate distribution system. ERIC SALZMAN
VARESEs work had always sought the abstract and, in part, visually inspired concepts of form and spatial movements. Among other elements for «Poème électronique» he used machine noises, transported piano chords, filtered choir and solo voices, and synthetic tone colorings. With the help of the advanced technical means made available through the Philips Pavilion, the sounds of this composition for tape recorder could wander throughout the space on highly complex routes.
The Philips Pavilion was pulled down at the end of the Fair and the work survives only in the two-channel version which was achieved later at the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center in New York.

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