The Musical Language of Pierre Boulez: Writings and Compositions

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Pierre Boulez is arguably the most influential composer of the second half of the twentieth century. Here, Jonathan Goldman provides a fresh appraisal of the composer's music, demonstrating how understanding the evolution of Boulez's ideas on musical form is an important step towards evaluating his musical thought generally. The theme of form arising from a grammar of oppositions – the legacy of structuralism – serves as a common thread in Boulez's output, and testifies to the constancy of Boulez's thought over and above his several notable aesthetic and stylistic changes. This book lends a voice to the musical works by using the writings – particularly the mostly untranslated collected Collège de France lectures (1976–1995) – to comment on them. It also uses five musical works from the post-1975 period to exemplify concepts developed in Boulez's writings, presenting a vivid portrait of Boulez's extremely varied production.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The Musical Language of Pierre Boulez: Writings and Compositions is chock-full of examples, musical examples but nearly as many tables illustrating Boulez analytical approach to how music works. There are also necessarily ample quotations from Boulez' writings. It's produced to CUP's usual high standards and can be recommended for anyone even vaguely interested in modern music. Yes, it relies on a technical dissection of actual music. Yes, it presupposes some understanding of why the issues discussed are important. The job Goldman sets out to do he succeeds at credibly and impressively." -Classical Net, Mark Sealey
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521514903
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/2011
  • Series: Music Since 1900 Series
  • Pages: 268
  • Product dimensions: 6.70 (w) x 9.80 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Jonathan Goldman is Associate Professor of Musicology at the Université de Montréal, and specializes in twentieth-century music history. Editor-in-Chief of the journal Circuit, musiques contemporaines, he wrote the preface to Leçons de musique (2005), a collection of Boulez's writings published in France.

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction; Part I. Form as Opposition in the Writings of Pierre Boulez: 2. Writings from the first period: serialist doctrine, the open work, and strategies of rhetorical displacement; 3. A portrait of Webern, a self-portrait of Boulez; 4. Form, thematicism and perceptual categories in the writings from the 1970s to the present; Part II. Form as Opposition in Selected Works by Pierre Boulez: 5. Introduction to Part II: analysis by, of, in and according to Boulez; 6. Rituel and the architecture of antiphony; 7. Dérive 1 and harmonic control; 8. Mémoriale and polar mechanics; 9. Anthèmes and virtual thematics; 10. Incises and the play of recognition and surprise; 11. Boulezian form in theory and practice; Writings by Boulez; Chronological list of works and bibliography of writings classified by work; Selected recordings of works studied.

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