Edgard Varèse: Ionisation
The sheet music for Edgard Varèse's "Ionisation" (1931), his composition for thirteen percussionists, and one of the first concert hall compositions solely for percussion ensemble. It was debuted in 1933 at Carnegie Chapter Hall, an annex to New York City's renowned Carnegie Hall. It is also perhaps Varèse's most famous piece, and is said to have inspired Frank Zappa to pursue a career in music. Varèse also become known as the "father of electronic music" for his use of new instruments and electronic elements in his music.
Published by Henry Cowell's New Music Edition publishers as part of the "New Music Orchestra Series", which ran from 1927 until 1936 when Cowell was arrested (and imprisoned) for having sexual relations with a 17-year-old male. The publishing imprint and New Music Society name was brought back later when Cowell was released from prison, and lived in New York. The society presented concerts and published a quarterly of modern compositions, with John Cage and Lou Harrison, among others, serving on the editorial board.
This copy appears to have been acquired by composer Douglas Leedy in 1956, as Leedy has signed the title page with his name and year in pen, as he often did with books and scores in his library. Leedy was involved in the West Coast avant-garde music scene and taught music at UCLA and Reed College, and his compositions were published in the journal "Source: Music of the Avant Garde" during the late-1960s.
The "Nomenclature of Instruments" for the score is included in French and English, and there is a reprint of a review (in English) of the New York debut performance that appeared in "The New Republic" on April 26, 1933. Also includes a laid-in program (one sheet folded) for a March 10, 1958 performance of "Ionization" (with a "z" as it is sometimes spelled) at the LA County Auditorium by the Los Angeles Percussion Ensemble, with Robert Craft conducting. A very rare and early (most likely the first) printing of an important score in the history of avant-garde music in the 20th Century. Item #801.
Condition: Very Good, light toning to edges of covers; minor rubbing/soiling to covers; top right corner bumped/creased and diagonal corner crease visible on interior pages; bump/dogear to lower right corner; a few notes by Leedy in pencil on the first page of score.