Poème Electronique

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"Poème Electronique" (1958) is a composition by Edgard Varèse, which premiered in Brussels during the World's Fair. Varèse was in Belgium to conduct the première when the eighteen year old Zappa tried to phone him. Varèse's wife, Louise Varèse, answered and told Zappa that her husband would call him back, which eventually happened.

The first recording of Poème Electronique was released on a 1960 album released by Columbia, which Zappa owned.

Zappa about Poème Electronique

"It was about seven years from the time I first heard his music till I met someone else who even knew he existed. That person was a film student at USC. He had the Columbia LP with Poème électronique on it. He thought it would make groovy sound effects." - Frank Zappa in Edgard Varèse: The Idol of My Youth, 1971.

Interviewer: Edgar Varèse was an early influence on you and he was an early pioneer of musique concrete with "Poème Electronique" and "Déserts." I recall when we spoke before that you didn't think very highly of those works.

Frank Zappa: "That could possibly be due to the timing of when I heard it. Since I had more or less grown up with the pieces on EMS-401 (the first recording of Varese's works) and none of them were electronic, when I finally heard "Poème Electronique" on the Columbia album they did when he was around 80 years old, I had heard other types of electronic music. His may have come first (it didn't) and it may have been the pioneering thing (it was), but my ear had already been exposed to other albums. So it wasn't as shocking or extreme as hearing "Octandre" or "Ionisation" for the first time."

- Quoted from Frank Zappa and His Digital Orchestra, Electronic Musician, September 1986.

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