Varèse: Amériques

Edition Zeza
SKU EZ-3135
Weight 6.00 LBS
Difficulty Advanced
Instrumentation 3+2.3+1.3+1+Eb.3+2/,timp,9 perc,cel,2hp,heckelphone,str
Duration 23 minutes
Set of Parts Includes Strings count
Extra Strings Only available with the purchase of a Set of Parts
Score Type


Amériques is an orchestral composition by Edgard Varèse, scored for a very large, romantic orchestra with additional percussion (for eleven performers) including sirens. Written between 1918 and 1921 and revised in 1927, it was the first work Varèse composed after he moved to the United States. Although it was not his first work, he destroyed many of his earlier pieces, effectively making Amériques his opus one (although he never used that designation).

The work is in one movement which lasts around 23 minutes, with full orchestral involvement almost throughout. Although it opens quietly, with "Debussy-like musing", it quickly builds in dynamic power and is punctuated by massive crescendos which are similar in style to those found in Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring but on a much larger scale. The work is marked by its fiercely dissonant chords and rhythmically complex polyphonies for percussion and winds. It develops in continuous evolution with recurring short motifs, which are juxtaposed without development.

Structurally, the work is assembled by placing a number of self-contained 'blocks' of music against one another in the manner of Stravinsky. The blocks are marked primarily by texture and timbre with melody and rhythm being much more malleable. This remained common practice for Varèse throughout his career.

Commentary on Amériques has focused on its elemental power, and its vivid representation of New York City, not failing to incorporate its howling police car sirens. Varèse used the sirens for structural importance, as representations of a continuum pitch beyond twelve-tone equal temperament. Varèse intended the title Amériques to symbolize "discoveries – new worlds on earth, in the sky, or in the minds of men."

3+2.3+1.3+1+Eb.3+2/,timp,9 perc,cel,2hp,heckelphone,str
23 minutes
Set of Parts:
Includes Strings count
Extra Strings:
Only available with the purchase of a Set of Parts
Product Type: