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Has Boulez's been a pernicious influence?


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Author Topic: Has Boulez's been a pernicious influence?  (Read 1956 times)
autoharp
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« Reply #15 on: February 26, 2012, 05:19:04 pm »

Frederick Stocken is a familiar name is he not? He and Keith Burstein received some attention back in the 1990s (and some opposition from an Ian Pace, amongst others).

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/a-noisy-night-at-the-opera-esther-oxford-reports-on-a-clash-that-is-looming-between-traditionalist-music-lovers-and-avantgarde-rivals-at-covent-garden-1369165.html

http://www.churchill-society-london.org.uk/Bad.html
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ahinton
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« Reply #16 on: February 27, 2012, 07:38:45 am »

Ah, yes - how interesting the effect of selective memory can sometimes be, can it not? Until you reminded me as above, I'd completely forgotten about that! - whbich presumably says something about its unimportance in the scheme of things. But since you have now drawn our attention to it again, one might argue that the sheer noisiness of such an act of disruption was, like the act itself, so yesterday; it was just about on a level with the young Boulez's noisy and attention-seeking assertion almost half a century earlier that those composers who do not grasp the significance of 12-note serialism were of no use - or indeed the violent protests that took place at the première of Schönberg's D minor string quartet in which Mahler sought to intervene in support of the composer almost half a century before that - or, for that matter, some of the very nasty reviews of a young man almost three quarters of a century before that, following his première as soloist in his E minor piano concerto (I refer here, of course, to Chopin, aged around 20).

All that really matters is that a composer writes just as he/she feels impelled to write. Birtwistle does it; so did George Lloyd. Take Boulez's barb refered to above, which is demonstrably about as meaningful as accusing Mozart of being of no use on account of his lack of understanding of gamelan, or indeed Boulez's own questionable usefulness in the light of his lack of understanding of Vaughan Williams; that kind of noisily empty polemicism may stick in the memory but its inevitable passage into footnote-of-history status illustrates just why Boulez's influence in such matters has ultimately be far less than pernicious, since it has by no means become the accepted norm. Furthermore, time is no respecter of such mental inflexibility and dogmatism, as is obvious from the most casual comparison between today's musical climate and that of the early days of Boulez; the term Darmstadtrophy camoes to mind...
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Jolly Roger
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« Reply #17 on: March 18, 2013, 08:06:36 am »

I'm convinced that some composers would have been far better off without the influence Boulez, Cage, and their ilk, who compose musical snake oil for adoring zealots. Progressives take note - having an open mind does is far different than having an empty one to be filled with "vampid progressive abberations of "beauty".
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« Reply #18 on: March 18, 2013, 09:59:09 am »

I'm convinced that some composers would have been far better off without the influence Boulez, Cage, and their ilk
But what "ilk" could that possibly be? Boulez is about as far from Cage as Pergolesi is from Varèse!

who compose musical snake oil for adoring zealots
I don't think that Cage was so self-aggrandising by nature as to do anything of the kind, frankly; as to Boulez, are you really seeking to suggest that Répons, Dérive II, Messagesquisse, Le Marteau sans Maître and, above all, Pli selong Pli are "musical snake oil" (however that can or cannot be identified and defined) written deliberately and solely to be listened to by a tiny côterie of like-minded peers only? and, if so, how do you account for the fact that, given all the changes in music since the 1950s, they're still being performed today?

Progressives take note - having an open mind does is far different than having an empty one to be filled with "vampid progressive abberations of "beauty".
What's vampid? How do you define "progressives"? How do you define "beauty" and aberrations[sp.] thereof".

On top of all that, just how widespread and pervasive is the influence of Boulez today anyway?
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Gauk
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« Reply #19 on: March 18, 2013, 11:04:01 am »

I am on the side of Boulez here, up to a point. The reason he is held to be a great composer is not because people are conned in some way, but because he genuinely is a great composer. But to appreciate his music, you really do have to, as Charles Ives put it, "stand up and use your ears like a man".

The problem, as I see it, is with (as per the thread title) the influence, or to be more precise, the advocacy of total serialism as the musical "way ahead". In the long run, I think strict serialism, and especially total serialism, will turn out to have been a blind alley. It is possible to write masterpieces using serial techniques, when applied by a great musical mind. Unfortunately, in the hands of anyone who is not a great musical mind, serial techniques produce pieces that have no virtue.

For instance, if you take some minor second- or third-rate Soviet composer of limited compositional powers. Their music can still be enjoyable and entertaining today; which is why there are a bunch of them represented in the archive here. But the works of a composer of equivalent ability writing in the total serialism manner just have no redeeming features; they are just dull. Thus I predict that 50 years from now, there will still be people like us chasing obscure pupils of Reger; but no-one will take any interest in obscure pupils of Boulez.

Footnote: I heard that for a pupil of Boulez, a compositional lesson consisted of being taken out to a Chinese restaurant for a meal and a chat about anything under the sun.
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Neil McGowan
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« Reply #20 on: March 18, 2013, 11:58:56 am »

Much as I hate to disappoint Petit Pierre's fans, his 'influence' is almost 0.

He is unheard of as a composer outside France, except for a certain notoreity. His music is never played.
Here in Moscow, nothing of Boulez's - except perhaps a few solo piano pieces played in student recitals? -
is performed at all.

He has become Unsung during his own lifetime.

Within France, I suppose he is guilty of having shoved everyone else aside to further his own
self-importance.  That may be called a legacy, but it is far from a good one.

Nor would I call him anything better than a merely average conductor.  His Janacek efforts are feeble -
he should really stop now.

Quote
On top of all that, just how widespread and pervasive is the influence of Boulez today anyway?

I doubt it even reaches the 20-ieme arondissement, let alone the rest of France.
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Dundonnell
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« Reply #21 on: March 18, 2013, 06:44:24 pm »

We know what Boulez thought of many composers both of the past and amongst his contemporaries. The treatment of Hans Werner Henze by Boulez and his fellow members of the Darmstadt school in the early 1950s is notorious and was utterly disgraceful. It was one reason(there were of course others) why Henze left Germany.

What seems to me interesting is that Boulez-as he got older-increasingly widened his conducting repertoire. It is not so very long ago that I bought a Boulez recording of the Bruckner 8th symphony with the Vienna Philharmonic, recorded at the International Bruckner Festival at St. Florian. Now....I would wager that if someone had said to Boulez in, say 1953, that one day he would be conducting a Bruckner symphony he would have snorted in disbelief and derision.

Age brings-or should do Grin-increasing wisdom. Has Boulez a radically different opinion today of those composers he openly despised as a young man Huh
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Gauk
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« Reply #22 on: March 19, 2013, 06:04:38 pm »

He is unheard of as a composer outside France, except for a certain notoreity. His music is never played.
Here in Moscow, nothing of Boulez's - except perhaps a few solo piano pieces played in student recitals? -
is performed at all.

Not true in the UK. His music is broadcast fairly frequently, and was performed on mainstream TV in a recent documentary series on 20th C music. He also appeared as a talking head on the same programme.

Also, given the number of people who have passed through IRCAM, one can hardly say his influence is zero.
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Jolly Roger
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« Reply #23 on: March 20, 2013, 12:19:54 am »

If Le Marteau sans Maître - is good music, please tell me what(if anything) can be described as mediocre or distasteful.
If the bar is to be set that low, I guess I could record my pet birds and be considered a creative genius.
There is so much wonderful inspired music being written which merits our attention, too much is neglected for
the mediocre.
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Gauk
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« Reply #24 on: March 20, 2013, 04:56:09 pm »

If Le Marteau sans Maître - is good music, please tell me what(if anything) can be described as mediocre or distasteful.

Want a list?  Smiley
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Neil McGowan
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« Reply #25 on: March 20, 2013, 08:17:34 pm »

If Le Marteau sans Maître - is good music, please tell me what(if anything) can be described as mediocre or distasteful.

Plink selon Plunk.

To name just one such 'masterpiece'  Wink
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Jolly Roger
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« Reply #26 on: March 21, 2013, 06:19:53 am »

If Le Marteau sans Maître - is good music, please tell me what(if anything) can be described as mediocre or distasteful.

Want a list?  Smiley
It sounds like fun...but there are sensitive musical egos afoot.
Be critical of something written by an icon like Elliot Carter and watch the fur fly!!
 
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Gauk
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« Reply #27 on: March 21, 2013, 04:24:54 pm »

I don't like Carter's music, but I don't try and pretend that it is bad music because I don't happen to like it. I'm thinking of any number of very minor composers who have followed serial techniques slavishly and without any musical imagination.
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Latvian
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« Reply #28 on: March 21, 2013, 07:32:49 pm »

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The problem, as I see it, is with (as per the thread title) the influence, or to be more precise, the advocacy of total serialism as the musical "way ahead". In the long run, I think strict serialism, and especially total serialism, will turn out to have been a blind alley. It is possible to write masterpieces using serial techniques, when applied by a great musical mind. Unfortunately, in the hands of anyone who is not a great musical mind, serial techniques produce pieces that have no virtue.

Exactly. Slavish adherence to any "method" does not guarantee great results. If you are an untalented hack, no "system" or "method" will elevate you to a more profound level and allow you to produce masterpieces. Garbage in, garbage out.
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Jolly Roger
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« Reply #29 on: March 22, 2013, 12:17:04 am »

Regarding "difficult music" in general:
If the music is a "difficult listen", then based on WHO likes it and WHO performs it, I will give it repeated effort...several times and several hours in some cases. And often,this music may yeild great rewards. The WHO includes most members of this forum, friends and reviewers such as www.musicwebinternational.com, www.recordsinternational.com,www.clofo.com and http://www.classical.net.
I migrated from unsung to this great forum wich implies a much wider musical spectrum of musical tastes.

On the other hand, there are some at this forum who are more liberal (I reject their word progressive) in musical tastes and I take their suggestions more reservedly. This holds true especially if I have already wasted hours of my time trying to assimilate music that for me, is of little value and is overhyped.  At age 72, time becomes more precious and my to eagerness to hear great unknown music may be a big factor in my tastes, but when I was young I was weaned on Wagner Copland, and Brahms, so go figure..
I do not place a negative value on their input and hope they will do likewise with mine. Terms like neo-Glazunov or "musical Stalinist" only pollute the dialogue.(Silly term, Stalin promoted Miaskovsy's music, much of it I regard as priceless.'''emphasis on the I")
I suggest a caution if the music is difficult at best, just as  as a caution hat some tastes may be too bland and conservative for those seeking musical "diversity". Opposing "Diversity" implies a closed mind and the issue may be semantics as well..its HOW you say something.
I hope I have been respectful to both opinions, which is all they really are.



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