Almanac – December 22

1883 – Edgard Varèse born. French-born composer who spent the greater part of his career in the United States. Varèse’s music emphasizes timbre and rhythm, he was the inventor of the term “organized sound”, a phrase meaning that certain timbres and rhythms can be grouped together, sublimating into a whole new definition of music.

Although his complete surviving works only last about three hours, he has been recognised as an influence by several major composers of the late 20th century. His use of new instruments and electronic resources led to his being known as the “Father of Electronic Music” while Henry Miller described him as “The stratospheric Colossus of Sound”.

One of Varèse’s biggest fans was Frank Zappa, who, upon hearing a copy of The Complete Works of Edgard Varèse, Vol. 1, became obsessed with the composer’s music.

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1989 – Samuel Beckett died. Irish avant-garde novelist, playwright, theatre director, and poet, who lived in Paris for most of his adult life and wrote in both English and French.

His work offers a bleak, tragicomic outlook on human nature, often coupled with black comedy and gallows humour, and he is widely regarded as among the most influential writers of the 20th century.

Strongly influenced by James Joyce, he is considered one of the last modernists, and also sometimes  one of the first postmodernists. He is one of the key writers in what Martin Esslin called the “Theatre of the Absurd”.

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2002 – Joe Strummer died. British musician who was the co-founder, lyricist, rhythm guitarist and lead vocalist of the British punk rock band The Clash. Strummer died suddenly, the victim of an undiagnosed congenital heart defect.

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