Author Topic: Like Boulez?  (Read 7943 times)

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Online ritter

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Re: Like Boulez?
« Reply #20 on: July 01, 2015, 01:45:01 PM »
I think that the idea that Boulez composes "pretty sounds" would be taken as an insult by him.
As he says "All these years, I’ve been trying to convince people that music is not there to please them; it’s there to disturb them.’

http://www.gramophone.co.uk/feature/face-to-face-with-pierre-boulez-%E2%80%98acquire-and-destroy-acquire-and-destroy-then-go-further%E2%80%99?utm_expid=32540977-5.-DEFmKXoQdmXwfDwHzJRUQ.0&utm_referrer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.it%2Furl%3Fsa%3Dt%26rct%3Dj%26q%3D%26esrc%3Ds%26source%3Dweb%26cd%3D3%26ved%3D0CDUQFjAC%26url%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.gramophone.co.uk%252Ffeature%252Fface-to-face-with-pierre-boulez-%2525E2%252580%252598acquire-and-destroy-acquire-and-destroy-then-go-further%2525E2%252580%252599%26ei%3DoNmTVdzoEcrXU_W9uMgE%26usg%3DAFQjCNFnnYDLIi3OQndbF1dow5elIVe8LQ%26bvm%3Dbv.96952980%2Cd.d24%26cad%3Drja
Thanks for the link, Escher. I had read tis when it was first published, and believe it is a fair and well-measured appraisal of Boulez's thought and personality.

And just for the record, I'd say Boulez's remark is probably spot-on as far as any great art is concerned.  ;)

Frankly, I cannot understand how anyone who's read the article or is acquainted with Boulez's thinking can peceive it as "shallow".

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Offline San Antonio

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Re: Like Boulez?
« Reply #21 on: July 01, 2015, 01:54:15 PM »
That was one of the best articles/interviews about/with Boulez that I've read.

Thanks for posting it.

Offline escher

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Re: Like Boulez?
« Reply #22 on: July 01, 2015, 03:19:12 PM »
Thanks for the link, Escher. I had read tis when it was first published, and believe it is a fair and well-measured appraisal of Boulez's thought and personality.

And just for the record, I'd say Boulez's remark is probably spot-on as far as any great art is concerned.  ;)

Frankly, I cannot understand how anyone who's read the article or is acquainted with Boulez's thinking can peceive it as "shallow".

Cheers,

well, to me the idea that art has to necessarily disturb and does not have to please is completely arbritrary (without even saying that for thousand of years art has been a lot of other things than just something made to disturb).
 As I find shallow and superficial his idea (that he seems to imply when he dismisses any composer who's still using tonal elements as "non existent") that progress in the art is just the ability to use new techniques. It's possible to be original using techniques of the past and I'm tempted to say that it is even more difficult than just the elaboration of a new idea. The ability to elaborate new concepts and the ability to produce great music with those concept are completely different things.

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Like Boulez?
« Reply #23 on: July 01, 2015, 03:41:27 PM »
He takes only those things of narrow interest to himself as being of artistic significance.  That, I am afraid, strikes me as shallow.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
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Offline Cato

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Re: Like Boulez?
« Reply #24 on: July 01, 2015, 03:59:17 PM »
He takes only those things of narrow interest to himself as being of artistic significance.  That, I am afraid, strikes me as shallow.

I noticed that: criticizing e.g. Feldman for thinking himself godlike, and then evincing the same attitude.
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Offline San Antonio

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Re: Like Boulez?
« Reply #25 on: July 01, 2015, 04:03:35 PM »
well, to me the idea that art has to necessarily disturb and does not have to please is completely arbritrary (without even saying that for thousand of years art has been a lot of other things than just something made to disturb).
 As I find shallow and superficial his idea (that he seems to imply when he dismisses any composer who's still using tonal elements as "non existent") that progress in the art is just the ability to use new techniques. It's possible to be original using techniques of the past and I'm tempted to say that it is even more difficult than just the elaboration of a new idea. The ability to elaborate new concepts and the ability to produce great music with those concept are completely different things.

However, I did not exactly get from his comments what you describe.  What came across to me, and it is an idea that I generally agree, he thought that a composer like Poulenc was not responding to the music of Schoenberg.  Boulez considers this a problem for Poulenc; of course I do not, and no one else has to agree with Boulez.  But given the personal priorities of Boulez it makes perfect sense for him to think what he does.  The same goes for the younger composers writing in a neo-tonal style who he dismisses.

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Re: Like Boulez?
« Reply #26 on: July 02, 2015, 06:41:35 AM »
He takes only those things of narrow interest to himself as being of artistic significance.  That, I am afraid, strikes me as shallow.
Well, we discuss this on and off on a regular basis, and we'll never agree I'm afraid.

In the bigger picture, though, it appears to me that music is the only art form in which complacently applying archaic and surpassed means of expression is considered acceptable (by the wider public and a good part of critics) for a major composer.

A painter emulating, for instance, Manet in the mid-20th century would have been laughed out of the museums, and yet Poulenc's music (pleasant as it may be) is even called "great" by a lot of people.

I cannot think of any composer who deserves the epithet of "major" who has not made the art of music move forward...not a single one! And IMHO that is the point that Boulez the writer has been making for the past 65 years. And as a composer, he himself falls squarely in that category....
« Last Edit: July 02, 2015, 06:52:20 AM by ritter »
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Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Like Boulez?
« Reply #27 on: July 02, 2015, 06:54:21 AM »
Well, we discuss this on and off on a regular basis, and we'll never agree I'm afraid.

In the bigger picture, though, it appears to me that music is the only art form in which complacently applying archaic and surpassed means of expression is considered acceptable (by the wider public and a good part of critics) for a major composer.

It's all right if we never quite agree.  The only shame would be if, in disagreeing, we could not go on respecting one another.

As to your second point, much depends on three words there:  complacently, archaic and surpassed.
 
1.  I agree broadly that there is artistic complacency out there on the part of some big-name composers.  But the application of that adverb (complacently) is hardly a cut-&-dried matter, and some people (the namesake of this thread, for instance) apply it with narrow-sighted strictness.
 
2.  The creative use of archaism is an evergreen element in the art of Music;  that remained true in the work of Schoenberg throughout his career, and if Boulez has been fond to pontificate that the musical world changed radically with le mort de Schoenberg, no matter:  Boulez saying something, doesn't make it so.  If you really mean to use archaic as some sort of "dirty word," you cannot expect to get much purchase.
 
3.  No musical method is "surpassed" as long as artists of stature create vital work using it.  No amount of New Music Nazi posturing by Boulez is going to alter that cultural fact;  it only highlights Boulez's own blindspots.  Of course, Boulez has a history of touting his artistic blindspots as if they were, somehow, signal virtues.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
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[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
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His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Like Boulez?
« Reply #28 on: July 02, 2015, 06:57:24 AM »
I cannot think of any composer who deserves the epithet of "major" who has not made the art of music move forward...not a single one!

"Forward motion" is a bit chimerical, don't you think?  All right:  in what way did Ravel "make the art of music move forward"?  Even Boulez, I suppose, considers Ravel a major composer.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
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Offline San Antonio

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Re: Like Boulez?
« Reply #29 on: July 02, 2015, 06:58:57 AM »
Of course I refuse to categorize composers as between the great and the non-great, but that said, plenty of composers write  vibrant and important music without feeling the need to chart brave new musical worlds.  Rachmaninoff is the example I was thinking of.

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Like Boulez?
« Reply #30 on: July 02, 2015, 07:00:48 AM »
Of course I refuse to categorize composers as between the great and the non-great, but that said, plenty of composers write  vibrant and important music without feeling the need to chart brave new musical worlds.  Rachmaninoff is the example I was thinking of.

Completely agreed, and (I expect) a perfect example of a great composer for whom Boulez probably has nothing but contempt.  So much the worse for Boulez.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
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[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
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His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Online ritter

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Re: Like Boulez?
« Reply #31 on: July 02, 2015, 07:11:32 AM »
It's all right if we never quite agree.  The only shame would be if, in disagreeing, we could not go on respecting one another.

As to your second point, much depends on three words there:  complacently, archaic and surpassed.
 
1.  I agree broadly that there is artistic complacency out there on the part of some big-name composers.  But the application of that adverb (complacently) is hardly a cut-&-dried matter, and some people (the namesake of this thread, for instance) apply it with narrow-sighted strictness.
 
2.  The creative use of archaism is an evergreen element in the art of Music;  that remained true in the work of Schoenberg throughout his career, and if Boulez has been fond to pontificate that the musical world changed radically with le mort de Schoenberg, no matter:  Boulez saying something, doesn't make it so.  If you really mean to use archaic as some sort of "dirty word," you cannot expect to get much purchase.
 
3.  No musical method is "surpassed" as long as artists of stature create vital work using it.  No amount of New Music Nazi posturing by Boulez is going to alter that cultural fact;  it only highlights Boulez's own blindspots.  Of course, Boulez has a history of touting his artistic blindspots as if they were, somehow, signal virtues.
I see no danger of us not continuing to respect one another.  :)

Perhaps the word "archaic" doesn't encompass what I really mean...the Spanish word is "vetusto" ("vetuste" in French), with a meaning closer to "surpassed" and "dilapidated"... Yes, archaism (and quotation) are fanatastic artistic tools, used by a whiole lot of great composers... but the "langauge" of those great compsoers was/is a "language" of their time that may incorporate such a tool, not a mannerist continuation of something that was fresh 50 years earlier, but is no longer applicable to the times and the Zeitgeist.

As for your third point, I'm afraid I disagree totally... My position is that an artist cannot possible be of "sature" if   he uses these "surpassed methods" (here we run the risk of a real catch-22 situation  ;D ). I wouldn't admire a painter who today painted the Sixtine Chapel, I wouldn't admire a writer who today writes Don Quixote...  The same rule I apply to music (pleasnt as some of that music may be  ;) )... Yep, Rachmaninoff (excellent example!)
« Last Edit: July 02, 2015, 07:36:28 AM by ritter »
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Offline Florestan

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Re: Like Boulez?
« Reply #32 on: July 02, 2015, 07:16:49 AM »
I wouldn't admire a painter who today painted the Sixtine Chapel, I wouldn't admire a writer who today writes Don Quixote... 

Don't worry, not a single one painter or writer of today could do that.  ;D ;D ;D
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Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Like Boulez?
« Reply #33 on: July 02, 2015, 07:20:03 AM »
I see no danger of us not continuing to respect one another.  :)

Perhaps the word "archaic" doesn't encompass what I really mean...the Spanish word is "vetusto" ("vetuste" in French), with a meaning closer to "surpassed" and "dilapidated"... Yes, archaism (and quotation) are fanatastic artistic tools, used by a whiole lot of great composers... but the "langauge" of those great compsoers was/is a "language" of their time that may incorporate such a tool, not a mannerist continuation of something that was fresh 50 years earlier, but is no longer applicable to the times and the Zeitgeist.

As for your third point, I'm afraid I disagree totally... My position is that an artist cannot possible be of "sature" if   he uses these "surpassed methods" (here we run the risk of a real catch-22 situation  ;D ). I wouldn't admire a painter who today painted the Sixtine Chapel, I wouldn't admire a writer who today writes Don Quixote...  The same rule I apply to music (pleasnt as some of that music may be  ;) )... Yep, Rachmaninoff (excellent example!)

Our agreement is partial . . . I am thinking of a fellow whose professed aim is to write music just like Mendelssohn (in which he does not succeed).  I think that the focus on method is imperfect and misleading, and that the art should be judged on its own merits, Rakhmaninov furnishing an excellent example.  But of course, Boulez is famously contemptuous of Shostakovich, whose work I hold in high estimation.  I suppose you do not care for it, yourself, since there is probably no way in which his music "moved the art forward."
 
I find the work of both Rakhmaninov & Shostakovich vital and uniquely expressive, and not in any way "dilapidated."
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
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His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Like Boulez?
« Reply #34 on: July 02, 2015, 07:21:05 AM »
Don't worry, not a single one painter or writer of today could do that.  ;D ;D ;D

No, indeed!  For only one thing, we live in an entirely different world.
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Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Like Boulez?
« Reply #35 on: July 02, 2015, 07:27:24 AM »
I wouldn't admire a painter who today painted the Sixtine Chapel, I wouldn't admire a writer who today writes Don Quixote...

You do not think that a painter or writer in our day who is capable of those respective feats, is therefore possessed of talent and skill worthy of admiration?

Naturally, such an artist working today, would create work distinct from either the Chapel ceiling or Don Quixote.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
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[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
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Offline escher

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Re: Like Boulez?
« Reply #36 on: July 02, 2015, 07:30:20 AM »
Well, we discuss this on and off on a regular basis, and we'll never agree I'm afraid.

In the bigger picture, though, it appears to me that music is the only art form in which complacently applying archaic and surpassed means of expression is considered acceptable (by the wider public and a good part of critics) for a major composer.

A painter emulating, for instance, Manet in the mid-20th century would have been laughed out of the museums, and yet Poulenc's music (pleasant as it may be) is even called "great" by a lot of people.

it depends with what we consider "emulating". For instance, I guess that great  painters as Vuillard and Bonnard could be considered derivative because of their link with the impressionist movement, even with all their originality and individuality.

I cannot think of any composer who deserves the epithet of "major" who has not made the art of music move forward...not a single one!

What about Brahms,  Bach, Mozart, Britten, Shostackovich for instance.
(Obviously Boulez hates the last two)

Offline Florestan

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Re: Like Boulez?
« Reply #37 on: July 02, 2015, 07:33:13 AM »
No, indeed!  For only one thing, we live in an entirely different world.

Of course. Any such comparisons or counter-factual conditionals are meaningless.
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Offline escher

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Re: Like Boulez?
« Reply #38 on: July 02, 2015, 07:36:10 AM »

As for your third point, I'm afraid I disagree totally... My position is that an artist cannot possible be of "sature" if   he uses these "surpassed methods" (here we run the risk of a real catch-22 situation  ;D ). I wouldn't admire a painter who today painted the Sixtine Chapel, I wouldn't admire a writer who today writes Don Quixote...  The same rule I apply to music (pleasnt as some of that music may be  ;) )... Yep, Rachmaninoff (excellent example!)

and what if you don't know for some reason when a piece of music has been created? Let's say that you don't know about All night vigil (an incredible masterpiece in my opinion) and someone would say to you that it was a revolutionary work created in the 15th century, it will change your consideration of it?

Online ritter

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Re: Like Boulez?
« Reply #39 on: July 02, 2015, 07:43:42 AM »
What about Brahms,  Bach, Mozart, Britten, Shostackovich for instance.
(Obviously Boulez hates the last two)
This list is a bit of a mixed bag, IMHO. Bach and Mozart on one side, a bunch of "derivatives" on the other  ::)  ;)
and what if you don't know for some reason when a piece of music has been created? Let's say that you don't know about All night vigil (an incredible masterpiece in my opinion) and someone would say to you that it was a revolutionary work created in the 15th century, it will change your consideration of it?
I for one cannot dissociate art (whatever art) from the time and place of its creation...
Ritter
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