Author Topic: René Leibowitz  (Read 2296 times)

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Offline Gurn Blanston

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René Leibowitz
« on: May 28, 2016, 04:37:00 PM »
I only know Leibowitz as the conductor of one of my favorite 9ths, but I was asked today about recordings of some of his own works, specifically string quartets, but other works would do. He was an influence on Boulez? What's the story, guys?

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Offline fugueforthought

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Re: René Leibowitz
« Reply #1 on: May 28, 2016, 04:53:42 PM »
That was fast!
Yes, it seems his career as a conductor and his presence in recordings overshadowed his reputation as a composer. His work in that area (sizeable list on his Wiki page) might not strike the interest of many by association alone (Messiaen, Boulez, etc.) but I'd like at least to be able to hear some of it.

Offline nathanb

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Re: René Leibowitz
« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2016, 05:50:04 PM »
I have a really solid work of his from the Darmstadt Aural Documents. Reminded me a bit of Webern.

Offline Gurn Blanston

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Re: René Leibowitz
« Reply #3 on: May 28, 2016, 05:54:36 PM »
I have a really solid work of his from the Darmstadt Aural Documents. Reminded me a bit of Webern.

Any way to get our hands on it, Nathan?

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Offline nathanb

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Re: René Leibowitz
« Reply #4 on: May 28, 2016, 05:58:58 PM »
Any way to get our hands on it, Nathan?

8)

You can listen here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcDrBhuudto

Said album is available on amazon. If you're not to keen on buying the thing (it's 6 discs and 10+ minute tracks are often available with album purchase only), there are other possible courses we could take ;)

Perhaps it would've been important to mention that it's a 1948 world premiere recording :)

Final Edit: Here's some more for you: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLUSRfoOcUe4bhKRdvOv09lA1XaKQ_kvuT
« Last Edit: May 28, 2016, 06:09:28 PM by nathanb »

Offline fugueforthought

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Re: René Leibowitz
« Reply #5 on: May 28, 2016, 06:13:13 PM »
Yargh. The YouTube video is unavailable where I am (Taiwan). I'd be willing to part with some (small portion) of my finances in order to acquire some recordings of his work, but haven't found a place to (conveniently) take my money. I did expect it to sound Webernian, and it's one of the reasons I'm on a search to find his stuff. I haven't been able to find anything on iTunes (the most convenient option for me, so I don't have to deal with international shipping) or anywhere else.

Offline nathanb

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Re: René Leibowitz
« Reply #6 on: May 28, 2016, 06:17:10 PM »
Yargh. The YouTube video is unavailable where I am (Taiwan). I'd be willing to part with some (small portion) of my finances in order to acquire some recordings of his work, but haven't found a place to (conveniently) take my money. I did expect it to sound Webernian, and it's one of the reasons I'm on a search to find his stuff. I haven't been able to find anything on iTunes (the most convenient option for me, so I don't have to deal with international shipping) or anywhere else.

Well, the first two volumes of the Darmstadt Aural Documents are certainly on iTunes in America :/

Offline amw

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Re: René Leibowitz
« Reply #7 on: May 28, 2016, 07:01:28 PM »
This might be a good place to start if they will deliver. (or the US site)

Offline fugueforthought

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Re: René Leibowitz
« Reply #8 on: May 28, 2016, 08:40:35 PM »
I did see the Darmstadt Box in iTunes, but I'm surprised that the only available thing seems to be his chamber symphony.... And a sonata or something I found on YouTube. I'm finding it harder to get my hands on ANY of his quartets than I did finding a CD recording of Milton Babbitt's third.
I've not even found any suggestion that they've ever been recorded, although I just assumed they had......

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Re: René Leibowitz
« Reply #9 on: May 29, 2016, 12:56:52 AM »
Inappropriate here perhaps;but his Offenbach recordings are very good! I must admit my copies of Orphee aux enfers and La Belle Hélène are dowloads off some vinyl blog;which seem to have been removed since;as far as I can make out. They're up there with the best,if you like that sort of thing. Some critics seem to think they ARE the best;although I wouldn't care to part with my Plasson recordings;particularly of Orpheus in the Underrworld. The Leibowitz recordings do have a certain feel for the music. A bit like Ackermann with those old emi recordings of Viennese operetta.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2016, 01:01:07 AM by cilgwyn »

Online ritter

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Re: René Leibowitz
« Reply #10 on: May 29, 2016, 01:35:28 AM »
I only know Leibowitz as the conductor of one of my favorite 9ths, but I was asked today about recordings of some of his own works, specifically string quartets, but other works would do. He was an influence on Boulez? What's the story, guys?

8)
The story is that Boulez studied briefly with Leibowitz, who taught him 12-tone technique. Joan Peyser, in her book(s) on Boulez, tells two stories that more or less sum up the French composer's stance towards his teacher (whether they are true or apocryphal, I cannot say). Pierre Boulez dedicated his first Piano sonata to Leibowitz. When Leibowitz returned the manuscript to his student, it was marked all over with "corrections" in red ink. Boulez is supposed to have screamed "Vous êtes de la merde!" at Leibowitz and stormed off (apparently never to return to the class). Later, when the sonata was to be printed by Amphion, the publisher asked whether the dedication to Leibowitz should be retained. In a fit of fury, Boulez allegedly grabbed a letter opener and started stabbing the manuscript with it!  :D :o

Boulez has repeatedly stated that Leibowitz for him represented  the worst of dogmatic and unimaginative teaching, and there was no love lost between both men. An anecdote retold by Charles Rosen in a video (that I cannot now locate) is a good example of the typical Boulez bon mot; Rosen quotes Boulez as saying something like this: "Twelve-tone composition was a marvelous journey. Leibowitz was like the stairway you use to board the plane. Once you've taken off, the stairway stays there on the tarmac";D.  In any case, yes, Leibowitz was one of Boulez's main teachers, along with Messiaen and (perhaps on a second plane) Andrée Vaurabourg (i.e. Mme. Honegger).

As far as Leibowitz the composer, this DIVOX set (pointed out by amw), with the Violin concerto and other pieces, is perhaps your best bet:


The music strikes me as quite stern, very Schoenbergian ("more Papist than the Pope") and perhaps slighty dated, but rather enjoyable if you like this kind of thing. I should revisit it myself one of these days.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2016, 07:11:58 AM by ritter »
ritter
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Offline Gurn Blanston

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Re: René Leibowitz
« Reply #11 on: May 29, 2016, 05:39:12 AM »
The story is that Boulez studied briefly with Leibowitz, who taught him 12-tone technique. Joan Peyser, in her book(s) on Boulez, tells two stories that more or less sum up the French composer's stance towards his teacher (whether they are true or apocryphal, I cannot say). Pierre Boulez dedicated his first Piano sonata to Leibowitz. When Leibowitz returned the manuscript to his student, it was marked all over with "corrections" in red ink. Boulez is supposed to have screamed "Vous êtes de la merde!" at Leibowitz and stormed off (apparently never to return to the class). Later, when the sonata was to be printed by Amphion, the publisher asked whether the dedication to Leibowitz should be retained. In a fit of fury, Boulez allegedly grabbed a letter opener and started stabbing the manuscript with it!  :D :o

Boulez has repeatedly stated that Leibowitz for him represented  the worst of dogmatic and unimaginative teaching, and there was no love lost between both men. An anecdote retold by Charles Rosen in a video (that I cannot now locate) is a good example of the typical Boulez bon mot: Rosen quotes Boulez as saying sothing like this: "Twelve-tone composition was a marvelous journey. Leibowitz was like the stairway you use to board the plane. Once you've taken off, the stairway stays there on the tarmac".  ;D In any case, yes, Leibowitz was one of Boulez's main teachers, along with Messiaen and (perhaps on a second plane) Andrée Vaurabourg (i.e. Mme. Honegger).

As far as Leibowitz the composer, this DIVOX set (pointed out by amw), with the Violin concerto and other pieces, is perhaps your best bet:


The music strikes me as quite stern, very Schoenbergian ("more Papist than the Pope") and perhaps slighty dated, but rather enjoyable if you like this kind of thing. I should revisit it myself one of these days.

That's a great story, so...French! :D 

I thank everyone who has responded so far. Obviously, I was asking on behalf of FugueForThought who was not a member at the time. Since he has decided to join us (Welcome!!) I can let him talk for himself. I must say though, you have opened some new doors for me, too. SInce I always liked this music in small doses, anyone who is Webernian has to have some appeal.   :)

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Re: René Leibowitz
« Reply #12 on: May 29, 2016, 06:12:24 AM »
Very nice story indeed Ritter !  Most of the french composers have in fact interacted with each others, but few admit how much they owe to their predecessors/teachers.  Messiaen admitted once he owed quite a bit to Charles Koechlin.  My feeling is they all studied each other music, so its like one "big pool" (a Fermi sea in physicist language), with lots of chapels.   

snyprrr

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Re: René Leibowitz
« Reply #13 on: May 29, 2016, 07:11:27 AM »
Taught from Pettersson to Zimmermann

Offline Jaakko Keskinen

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Re: René Leibowitz
« Reply #14 on: May 29, 2016, 07:46:45 AM »
Was this the guy who called Sibelius the worst composer in the world?
"Javert, though frightful, had nothing ignoble about him. Probity, sincerity, candor, conviction, the sense of duty, are things which may become hideous when wrongly directed; but which, even when hideous, remain grand."

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Re: René Leibowitz
« Reply #15 on: May 29, 2016, 08:03:24 AM »
Was this the guy who called Sibelius the worst composer in the world?
No, he was the guy who wrote a book with that title (even if it's only 6 pages long :D):


I think it's long OOP, and not easy to find these days..
« Last Edit: May 29, 2016, 08:24:24 AM by ritter »
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Offline fugueforthought

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Re: René Leibowitz
« Reply #16 on: May 29, 2016, 01:51:03 PM »
Thank you all for your responses, and yes, that is the understanding I had of the relationship between Boulez and Leibowitz in a nutshell: teacher early on, falling out, whatever the details may be. I'm going to be writing a series on some of the early works of the Darmstadt school in July, and am starting with (Debussy's quartet and) Messiaen and (hopefully) Leibowitz as a lead-in to Boulez, Nono, Stockhausen, Maderna, Berio... I initially just thought it would be a nice thing to include, but now seeing how difficult it is to get my hands on, I'm even more determined to track down his string quartets. I'd be interested in hearing the violin concerto to, actually.
Does it surprise anyone else that these works are that hard to come by? I suppose it's due in part to his success as a conductor, but again, I haven't even found reference to these works having been recorded by anyone anywhere. Would folks at IRCAM or some other French acronym be of any use?

Offline Scion7

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Re: René Leibowitz - YouTube in Taiwan
« Reply #17 on: May 29, 2016, 11:29:04 PM »
The Chi-coms have blocked YouTube, but according to current status reports, YouTube is freely accessible in both Taiwan and - for now - Hong Kong (until 2047, when all hell will break loose.)  Are you sure your firewall is not doing this?

Can you access http://www.dailymotion.com ?  You could try to search there, too.

But as a last resort, try a proxy - just keep rotating through them until you can get in; for example:  http://www.proxynova.com/proxy-server-list/country-tw/

As a lastest resort, order one of the discreet "GMG Dish Antenna" from this site, and hide it in a bush beside your residence, and tune in to this channel.  Be warned, Gurn accepts only gold or silver deposited in Caribbean offshore accounts . . .

Your barricades lie broken ... your enemies lord.

Offline fugueforthought

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Re: René Leibowitz
« Reply #18 on: May 30, 2016, 02:40:17 AM »
Yes I have free access to YouTube, but some providers (usually official accounts of record labels, etc.) only allow access to their videos from within certain countries. We JUST got Netflix here earlier this year.
I haven't tried proxies yet, because they're often so slow, but it's a good idea. I did get connected to recordings of his violin concerto, bagatelles for trombone and piano, and a few songs, and apparently have scores of all nine quartets on the way. I suppose I can at least enter them into some composition software and see what I get, but it wouldn't surprise me if his music is NOT amenable to that kind of reproduction.
I did find this:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h84iZjKeq9w&app=desktop

and this:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95VJEoSXSLw&feature=youtu.be

but still no luck with those string quartets. Could it be that some of his larger-scale works like the overture and the violin concerto (at 20-ish mins) could be recorded, but NONE of the quartets? Perhaps!