MUSIC LESSONS: The College of France Lectures

Book number: 93581 Product format: Hardback Author: PIERRE BOULEZ

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Bibliophile price £6.00
Published price £30


Pierre Boulez was not only a great conductor but a highly respected music theorist. This collection of 16 lectures, published here for the first time, shows the maestro at his intellectual peak, providing valuable material for musical and cultural studies both in the UK and in France. Boulez embodied the 20th century musical avant-garde which he had helped to shape, in particular with his electroacoustic experiments and a return to large-scale form. Michel Foucault, icon of poststructuralism, appointed him as a lecturer with the Collège de France, where he gave these talks. Boulez conceived of the lecture series as a single whole, and would deliver each one from his master-plan, though he subsequently revised them for individual publication. His inaugural address situated his research in the context of predecessors and colleagues. The chromaticisms of Wagner and Gesualdo come from different periods and different thought-worlds, representing the consolidation of a dimension of musical language, while in the present, Webern's works have led to a completely new musical language, with thematicism fundamentally reconceived. In 1959 Boulez wrote to Stockhausen proposing a new musical methodology. His lecture "Automatism and Decision" relates to the intrusion of chance on a composition, covering improvisation and spontaneous reactions, the desirability of "showing the workings" and letting the composition be a work in progress. It is highly significant that the title of the final lecture is "Whole or fragment?". Mahler is denounced for triviality, lack of invention and sourcing his ideas from folklore. The breadth of Boulez's cultural reach is exemplified in his reference to T.S. Eliot's "Tradition and the Individual Talent" which formulates the idea that each work of art necessitates a readjustment of our understanding of everything that precedes it. This is what Boulez means in saying the composer makes sense of memory through new creativity. Endlessly stimulating and a fascinating sidelight on late 20th century cultural theory. 662pp.

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ISBN 9780571334278

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