Boulez Two Cultures - David Gable_1990.pdf

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Boulez's Two Cultures: The Post-War European Synthesis and Tradition* BY DAVID GABLE In Germanmusic, there is a continuityand development,such as in Beethovenand Wagner,that the Frenchhave rarelyhad. . . . I tried to know more about this tradition;I had something to acquire. This Frenchness-this instinct for harmony-is one I have in myself and didn'thave to fight for. -Pierre Boulez' IERRE BOULEZWELLREPRESENTSA GROUPof

European composers

who came to maturity at the close of the Second World War. The outstanding figures within this group, including Boulez (b. 1925), Luciano Berio (b. 1925), and Karlheinz Stockhausen (b. 1928), shared a genuine community of values. While envisioning a powerful new musical language that would possess the scope and universality of the Viennese Classical style, they were alike in rejecting their heritage, in attempting to escape tradition. "II faut etre absolument moderne," as Rimbaud had said." Berio, Boulez, and Stockhausen staked a claim for their new aesthetic with a remarkable series of works that largely realized their ambitions: Stockhausen's Zeitmasse(1956), Gruppen ('955-1957), and Punkte (1962); Berio's Allelujab H (1957-1958), and Epifanie Diffrences (1959), Tempi Concertati (1958-1959), (1959-1961); and Boulez's own Le marteausansmaitre(1954-1957), Pli selonpli (i958-1962), and Figures,Doubles,Prismes(1959-1963; i968). With the new synthesis embodied in these works, the hierarchy of the musical elements was overturned and every aspect of the musical discourse rethought.3 *I would like to thank Kenneth Carlborg (The University of Illinois Libraries, Urbana), Robert P. Morgan, and Charles Rosen both for commenting on drafts of this and for many illuminating discussions of Boulez's music. study ' David Patrick Stearns, "Pierre Boulez: The Evolution of a Revolutionary," Ovation(July 1986): 2 1-22. 2 Arthur Rimbaud, A Seasonin Hell and TheDrunkenBoat, bilingual edition trans. Louise Varese (New York: New Directions, i961), 88. 3 Of the three composers mentioned here, Boulez has remained closest to the style embodied in these works. Where appropriate, I have ranged freely among works written throughout Boulez's career. References to Berio and Stockhausen generally

s Two Cultures: The Post-War European Synthesis and Tradition (s): David Gable Journal of the American Musicological Society, Vol. 43, No. 3 (Autumn, 1990),



Nevertheless, without denying the radical renewal accomplished these by composers, it is possible to see that Boulez's generation did not so much transcend tradition as transform it. The post-war European synthesis represented an alternative to Schoenberg's and Stravinsky's opposed neoclassicisms, but if the willed and selfconscious recourses to tradition so characteristic of Schoenberg and Stravinsky between the wars repelled Boulez, their disparate and highly individual discoveries of i908-i92o have variously engaged him throughout his career.4Tendencies characteristicof both AustroGerman and Franco-Russian traditions merged in the formation of Boulez's style.5sBoulez has successfully integrated his temperamental and aesthetic affinities for the Debussy/Stravinsky line with technical and "morphological"imperatives inherited from the three Viennese. His characteristic treatment of motive, texture, and dynamics can refer to the style embodied in the works mentioned here. The two works of Boulez that I most regret slighting in this study are Le soleil des eaux (195o; rev. 1958; re-orchestrated 1965) and Le visagenuptial(1951-1952; re-orchestrated 1989). Entirely lacking the doctrinaire features present to varying degrees in all of Boulez's instrumental works of the period, they are the richest and most aesthetically satisfying of his early works. With these works Boulez had alreadly developed a mature and fully viable "expressionist"style quite distinct from either Schoenberg's expressionism or the synthesis of the later 1950osthat is the focus of this study. 4With the passage of time, certain parallels between Stravinsky's neoclassicism and Schoenberg's have become increasingly clear. To compare the final E minor chord of Schoenberg's Piano Concerto to the opening E minor chord of Symphonyof Psalms, for example, is to be struck by parallels in sonority, function, structure, context, and style. s There is a considerable tradition of interactions between French and Russian composers. Moussorgsky once claimed that "In music there are two giants, the thinker Beethoven and the super-thinker Berlioz." (Jacques Barzun, Berliozand His Century,3rd ed. [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982], 408.) It is tempting to view Berlioz as the inventor of one strain of Russian music, so extensive is Moussorgsky's debt to him: compare, for example, the opening of BorisGodunovto its source, the Overture to "La Fuite en Egypte" from Berlioz's L'Enfancedu Christe.The Franco-Russian cross-pollination worked both ways, however: the characteristic opening chord progression from Debussy's Nuages (later transformed both in the opening of Stravinsky's Le Rossignoland in the Introduction to Part 2 of The Rite of Spring) is similarly beholden to the third song from Moussorgsky's proto-"Impressionist" song cycle, "Sunless." Stravinsky's relationship to Debussy has often been remarked, but the influence flowed in both directions: as late in his career as the Atudes,Debussy absorbed the direct influence of TheRiteofSpring,notably with "Pour les agrdments." Ravel, whom Stravinsky recognized as "the only musician who immediately understood Le Sacredu printemps"(Igor Stravinsky and Robert Craft, Conversations with Igor Stravinsky[Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1980], 62), orchestrated Picturesat an Exhibition.The styles of Varese and Messiaen can both be viewed as distinct amalgams of influences from Debussy and Stravinsky. I have touched upon Boulez's relationship to most of these composers within this study.



profitably be considered against the background of these tonal traditions. The achievements of Schoenberg and Stravinsky provide an illuminating context for exploring both Boulez's treatment of time and his transformations of tonal space. Aspects of his harmonic language and the forms it implies are best understood within the context of the French tradition from which they ultimately stem: with the post-war synthesis, the influence of French tradition became unprecedentedly central to European music. Boulez's relationship to the central Austro-German tradition is an ambiguous one. Debussy's ambivalent attitude toward Wagner is recapitulated in Boulez's equivocal relationship to the three Viennese. Virgil Thomson's witty characterization of Boulez as "a German agent"' notwithstanding, Boulez's fundamental allegiance to aspects of Debussy and Stravinsky is part of a complex of cultural predilections already exhibited in his early preference for Boris Godunovover Tristan und Isolde. Writing in 1976, the more perfect Wagnerite of Boulez's Bayreuth years still had this to say on the subject of the Ring: We need only considerthe visualconceptionof the Ringas producedat Bayreuthin 1876 to be convinced[thatWagnerwas alreadyoutmodedin realmsother than music]. By that point the Impressionistshad painted someof theirmost beautifulpictures.As for poetry,a "frissonnouveau" had contributedsensationsmoredaringthanthese settingsfromNordic mythology, which really belongedto the intellectuallandscapeof the earlynineteenthcentury:when Bayreuthopened[Rimbaud's]UneSaison en Enferand [Lautreamont's] LesChantsde Maldororhad alreadybeen written.7 The "frisson nouveau" in Boulez's music has little to do with a rhetoric either "Romantic"or "expressionist"originating east of the Rhine. From the very beginning, Boulez's heritage stemmed from two distinct traditions. His first models were respectively a student of Schoenberg and a French heir to Stravinsky: Anton Webern and Reader(Boston:HoughtonMifflin, 1981), 6 Virgil Thomson, A VirgilThomson 529-

7 PierreBoulez, Pointsde repure, rev. ed. (Paris:ChristianBourgois, 1985), 267 (Boulez, Orientations,trans. Martin Cooper [Cambridge: Harvard University Press,

1986],276). This is one of two anthologiesof Boulez'sessaysavailablein variously flawed English translations.The other is Pierre Boulez, Relevisd'apprenti (Paris: de Seuil, 1966) (Boulez, Notesof an Apprenticeship, trans. Herbert Weinstock

York:Alfred A. Knopf, 1968]).While I have made my own translationsof [New ,ditions passagesfrom eitherof these collections,I have also indicatedin parenthesestheir locations in the English-language editions for ease of access to the relevant essays.



Olivier Messiaen. If the neoclassicisms of Stravinsky and Schoenberg seemed false solutions in 1945, the heady achievements of thirty years earlier were already remote in time; direct access no longer seemed possible. Webern's serialism and Messiaen's ideas about rhythm provided Boulez with ready techniques that could be turned to new ends. Young Europe naturally gravitated to Webern's "cool Romanticism," to borrow Paul Klee's apt expression.8 Essentially free of any surface reference to the rhetoric of the tonal tradition, Webern's serial works (1924-1945) exhibit an identity of surface and structure that accounts for the spare purity of his style. Messiaen's importance lay not only in his speculations in the area of rhythm but in the new worlds of medieval, Renaissance, modern, and oriental music he opened to Boulez. Boulez's ambitions at the level of form soon outstripped both Webern's and Messiaen's. Despite the traces that Messiaen's influence has left on Boulez's oeuvre,Boulez has always harbored reservations about his former teacher's music. "Messiaen doesn't compose: he juxtaposes," as Boulez alleged in a famous mot.9 Messiaen's forms generally consist of juxtapositions of blocks of static material. If Boulez sought to escape from this simple formal frame, neither Messiaen nor Webern held the key. The distillations of Webern's style precluded many of the possibilities for development present in the denser compositional universes of Mahler, Debussy, Schoenberg, or Berg. There is no latent instability in Webern's unfolding patterns of equilibrium to motivate any larger forms. "Pursu[ing] his dream of vitrified improvisation,"'0 it was ultimately Debussy who inspired Boulez's generation to take the Webernian fragments up into a more sweeping, more flexible, continuum. Debussy and Boulez share more than one paradox. At the heart of their aesthetic is the conception of a music at once static and developmental. From this standpoint, it is revealing to compare Debussy's developmental procedures to those of the Austro-German tradition. From Bach to Schoenberg, motive has been indissolubly linked to harmonic data. This enabled Wagner and Mahler to create waves of development in a single "long line." For Debussy, as later for Boulez, motives could be harmonically neutral. Elusive fragments of melody, often no more than repeating rhythmic shapes, Debussy's S Otto Karl Werckmeister, TheMakingof Paul Klee'sCareer:1914-I920 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989), 41. 9 Peter Heyworth, "The First Fifty Years," in Pierre Boulez:A Symposium,ed. William Glock (London: Eulenburg, 1986), io. ,o Boulez, Relev-s, 346 (Boulez, Notes, 355).



motives do not necessarily imply harmonic motion. At one extreme, a motive could simply function as a repeating surface motif, as a manner of decorative pattern designed to organize the musical surface over a shifting and ambiguous background. "Des pas sur la neige" from the First Book of Preludes furnishes an example pure and simple of this technique. In this prelude, the French motivic system is revealed as a total inversion of the German system. Evolving independently of harmony within Debussy's style, melody and rhythm developed a more purely coloristic function. Within this context, they largely seem to be phenomena of texture. Development is displaced to what had formerly been ancillary features, to a play of opposed textures and contrasting sonorities. Debussy, "contra Wagner," was still capable of the long line, of "the rhetoric of the culminating point,"" but these were no longer achieved by harmonic means: Debussy realized them in exploiting the dynamic "envelope" of the total texture. "Envelope" may be defined as the unfolding gestalt of the total texture as shaped by dynamics and articulation.'" Already a decisive compositional element for Beethoven, this dynamic envelope has evolved with the other elements of music. It was used to articulate the giant waves of Wagner and Mahler as well as the periodic phrases of Haydn and Mozart. Within a neutral tonal space, Boulez's generation abandoned traditional phrase structure, which entailed a rethinking of the relationship among all the parameters. With Boulez or Stockhausen, the relationship of dynamic elements of articulation-quite literally, dynamics-to temporal unfolding was transformed. As we shall see, there is a new manner of nervous system animating the music of their synthesis. In tonal music, dynamics were strictly subordinate to phrase structures rooted in harmony. To a great extent, the composer in the eighteenth century could rely on the performer's "intuitive" application of dynamics, of articulating inflections. Nevertheless, a simple system of dynamics is implicit within the Viennese Classical style. Dynamics are conceived as existing on a series of discrete planes. Forte and piano are relative absolutes. Motion from one dynamic plane to another is regularly accomplished at appropriate junctures without any graded transition in levels; forte can replace piano " Pierre Boulez, "Debussy's Orchestral Music," liner notes to recordings of Debussy's orchestral music (New York: CBS Records, 1974). "2I have borrowed the usage "envelope" from Boulez. See David Gable, "Ramifying Connections: An Interview with Pierre Boulez," Journal of Musicology4 (1985-86): 111-12.


43 I

without any intervening crescendo. In performance, there is a subtle gradation of dynamics both in the articulationof beats and in shaping phrases, but these gradations are generally conceived as inflections on a single dynamic plane. Gradations may also occur within transitions from one stationary dynamic level to another, but the new softer or louder level is itself attained, maintained, and subject to purely local dynamic inflections of beat and phrase. As early as Beethoven and Rossini (those two greatest masters of the "Rossini crescendo"), these transitions assumed increased importance in the larger scale articulation of traditional formal units. The clarity of this system of dynamics, reinforcing the other more elaborate hierarchies of tonal music, was never entirely obscured, even in the course of a century of subsequent refinements. Continuously graded spans of dynamic change can be found in Wagner's operas or Mahler's symphonies, but always reinforcing a palpably goal-oriented harmonic language. Within the final crescendo from the Liebestod,for example, "loudest" is perceptibly a goal. With Mahler and Schoenberg, there were continuous dynamic adjustments that required correspondingly detailed notation. Characteristicallyrejecting this development, Stravinsky wrote in 1924 of his new Octet: I haveexcludedfromthis workall sortsof nuances,whichI havereplaced by the play of these [naturalinstrumental]volumes.I have excludedall nuancesbetweentheforteand thepiano;I haveleft only theforteand the piano.Thereforetheforteand thepianoarein my workonly the dynamic limit which determinesthe functionof the volumesin play.'3 Stravinsky must have felt that this represented a revival of the "objective" dynamic system of eighteenth-century music, although the dynamics employed in the Octetare by no means restricted to forte and piano, despite the force of Stravinsky's rhetoric. By the 1920s, however, there was a clear parting of the ways. Where Wagner, Mahler, and Schoenberg had developed a more or less continuous dynamic inflection, Stravinsky enforced a system of discrete dynamic planes within his neoclassical works. (This conception was already implicit in the works of Stravinsky's"Russian"period, beginning with Petrushka.) The mature works of Berio, Boulez, and Stockhausen represent a reintegration of these tendencies. Before the great works of the later and his Works(Berkeley and Los '3 Eric Walter White, Stravinsky:The Composer Angeles: University of California Press, 1966), 529.



fifties, Boulez and Stockhausen had attempted a serialization of dynamics, but this was one of those mechanical interventions in a natural evolutionary process that have plagued the history of atonality. If the serialization of dynamics represented a compromise between the continuous dynamic system of the Austrian tradition and Stravinsky's system of discrete dynamic planes, it could not be fully realized at the level of perception. ' With the more supple language of their later works, Berio, Boulez, and Stockhausen reclaimed the continuous dynamic articulationof Austro-German Romanticism. No longer expressive inflection, the smooth planing of these dynamics exhibits the clean "objective" character of Stravinsky's discrete dynamic levels. Implicit within the post-war generation'slater works is an absolute continuum of dynamics that might seem to have precluded any possibility for articulation at any level. Paradoxically, the dynamics effect a continuous articulation. Carefully graded and smoothly regulated, articulating dynamics are controlled as if by rheostat. As the often fragmented melodic line shifts from instrument to instrument, linear connections require the carefully controlled swells of its constituent notes. With a continuous dynamic, linear connections can be made independent of timbral, registral, or pitch connections, as when a sustained flute crescendo in Pli selonpli is released with a sharp bongo attack (see Example i, the 3/8 measure). This can lend extraordinary interest to a single crescendo on a sustained note. The tensile scansion so characteristic of these works is one of their most strikingly novel features. It was fundamental in creating the new continuous architecture of Pli selonpli and Gruppen. Like the asymmetry inherent in the unidirectional passing of time or the prominence of the octave within the overtone series, the natural privilege of the attack point has been a permanent condition of music. With the post-war synthesis, this privilege was challenged. In tonal music, the attack point was always at least minimally privileged relative to the durations between attacks, if only in the articulation of subdivisions of the beat. With Berio, Boulez, and Stockhausen, rhythm is focused as much on the smooth shifting of the dynamic continuum as on a system of articulated attack points. The clean attacks represent points of renewal within the continuum while the 4 In bypassing the integral serialism of the early 950os,Berio arrived at the same point as Boulez and Stockhausen by the later 1950s. The attempt to exploit a series of discrete graded dynamic levels contributes to the special sound world of Stockhausen's Kontrapunkte(1953), the one real masterpiece of early-fifties "pointillism," but Stockhausen moved on to a more promising musical field soon after.



Example I Excerpt from Boulez: Pli selonpli:Don. ? 1967 by Universal Edition (London) Ltd., London. All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of European American Music Distributors Corporation, sole U.S. and Canadian agent for Universal Edition London






-sempre piu 7


Cymb. grave



pour les





glissdc avec l'embouchure F


sol v..II


en 4


NIB.toutes les nuancesnon pas precises,maisde tres loin, commeavec un effet de "fading'






la peau son maximum de tension-frapperavec la baguette piat sar la peau. peau.




continuum helps to counter any tendency for the attack points to call a new rhythmic hierarchy into existence.'5 Something of this transformed system of dynamics can be gleaned from an excerpt from Don, the first movement of Pli selonpli (see Example I). Boulez's adaptation of "hairpin"notation tells the whole story. The initial glissando avec l'embouchureis performed with a crescendo: crescendo and glissando are perceived as one. Once the notated pitches have been attained, the sustained chord suddenly drops in volume. This is followed by a longer, slower crescendo. Near the end of this crescendo, a sudden more rapid crescendo perceptibly effects an increase, not only in volume, but in tempo: an increase in the rate of change of volume. Motion is conveyed along this sustained chord by dynamics alone. ' (The new sforzando attack releasing the crescendo within a crescendo is part of this same continuous dynamic process.) At higher levels of form, the dynamic curve need not be far removed from the wave-like forms to be found in many works of Wagner, Mahler, and Debussy. Tombeau(1959-I962), the last movement of Pli selonpli, is conceived as a single vast crescendo with coda. In its externals, it traces a curve strongly reminiscent of the three successive waves that constitute the first movement of Mahler'sNinth Symphony: both movements rely on a gradual statistical accumulation of detail, but where Mahler's tonal processes build to ultimate cathartic resolutions, Boulez's music floats. There is an extraordinary monolithic accumulation of activity in Tombeauthat parallels the smooth dynamic of its local processes, processes far removed from Mahler's tonal respiration. With the static timelessness of its language and the serene implacability of its form, Tombeaugives vent to an ethos reflecting Boulez's experience of oriental musics. '5 These clean attack points within Boulez's dynamic continuum are a Stravinskyan heritage. Stravinsky once wrote: "The stylistic performance problem in my music is one of articulation and rhythmic diction. ... For fifty years I have endeavored to teach musicians to play sfF.7Y instead of in certain cases, depending on the style. I have also labored to teach them to accent syncopated notes and to phrase before them in order to do so. (German orchestras are as unable to do this, so far, as the Japanese are unable to pronounce 'L.')" Stravinsky and Craft, Conversations with Stravinsky, I20. 16 It should be emphasized that this technique was not an inevitable consequence of atonality but specific to the post-war European synthesis. In exploring new possibilities in the realm of meter, Elliott Carter, for example, developed a post-tonal language that is not without parallels to Boulez's or Stockhausen's. Nevertheless, for Carter's explorations of time it was crucial that the attack point maintain essentially the same privilege it enjoyed with Beethoven.



Given the traditional intimacy of dynamics and rhythm, this transformation of articulating dynamics naturally brings us to Boulez's elusive handling of time. Wagner and Mahler had employed increasingly subtle and continuous local adjustments of tempo that were reinforced by their increasingly continuous adjustments of dynamics. Both attained ultimate refinement in the flexible and irregular scansion of Schoenberg's "prose rhythms." Again, this was a development that Stravinsky deplored. Stravinsky's discussion of musical time in The Poetics of Music parallels his remarks on the dynamics in the Octet. Borrowing terms from the conseillerdes arts Pierre Souvtchinsky, Stravinsky rejected the subtle adjustments of tempo or "psychological"time of the later Romantic tradition in favor of the precision of the "ontological" time of Bach, Haydn, and Mozart.'7 Boulez would exploit something very like this opposition from his earliest works.'" As a young man, Boulez demanded a "rhythmicelement of perfect atonality"'9 that would correspond to the implicitly relative and non-hierarchical harmonic world that Schoenberg had called into existence. The young Boulez was obsessed with the notion that the original architects of modernism had obtained only partial solutions. Advances along a given trajectory necessarily effected a change in the relationship among all of the musical elements, but particular audacities were linked to specific bodies of work: the new forms in certain of Debussy's works, Stravinsky's explorations of rhythm, the evolution of the tonal language within Schoenberg's oeuvre.The issue of rhythm seemed especially sensitive. Boulez has offered a range of responses to the disparity of levels that he perceived between rhythm and tonal language. Boulez seems to have glimpsed one solution in Schoenberg's expressionist works. In an original conception extrapolated from Schoenberg's prose rhythms, Boulez for a time attempted to abolish any sense of rhythmic regularity either in the large or in the smallest '7 Igor Stravinsky, Poeticsof Musicin the Formof Six Lessons(Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1970), 41. 18 Embarking on a parallel adventure during the same period, Elliott Carter exploited this same opposition. The opening Moderato of Carter'sCello Sonata (1948) "presents the cello in its warm expressive character, playing a long melody in rather free style, while the piano percussively marks a regular clock-like ticking." Elliott Carter, The Writingsof Elliott Carter,ed. Elsa and Kurt Stone (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1977), 271. '9 Boulez, Relevis, 74 (Boulez, Notes, 71).



details. This is already evident in the First Piano Sonata (1946), completed on the eve of Boulez's twenty-first birthday: Example 2 secondmovement,mm. 71-73. Used by Permissionof Boulez:Premidre sonatepourpiano, the Publisher.Sole RepresentativeU.S.A., TheodorePresserCompany Nettementplusvifet plusviolent



------• h


This excerpt represents a continuous written-out rubato, except that there is no implied metric at any level including that of the pulse against which it can be measured. Although Boulez was ultimately interested in a more mobile form than he was capable of at twenty, in the First Sonata he was content to juxtapose extreme states and to oscillate between them a' la Messiaen. In the Sonata's second movement, a completely irregular texture is opposed to a texture made up of absolutely regular, rapid, repeated pulses derived from Stravinsky's "motor rhythms." In Stravinsky's music, these rapidly ticking pulses would have been grouped into variable measures through the use of dynamic accent or by varying the size of repeating motives, as Boulez would soon show in an analysis of The Rite of Spring."2 In Boulez's Sonata, the irregularly overlapping entries of the motives thwart any possibility for grouping at a level higher than that of the pulse (see Example 3). By the late 1950's, Boulez had generalized his rhythmic ideas under the rubrics of "temps strie" and "temps amorphe," the twin poles of a shifting continuum through which the absoltite measurement of time was to be abolished. This was clearly a grand extrapolation from the sort of rhythmic opposition already put into play in the First Sonata. For Boulez, the notion of "striated time" embraces not only any regular, pulsed rhythmic organization, whether metrical or not, but any conception of fixed time points, regardless of how 20 Boulez, "Stravinskydemeure," Relevis,75-145 (Boulez, "Stravinsky Remains," Notes, 72-145).



Example 3 Boulez: Premieresonatepourpiano,second movement, mm. I --1 2. Used by Permission of

the Publisher.Sole RepresentativeU.S.A., TheodorePresserCompany Rapide( J. = 152)

•0 staccato

irregular in organization. By this definition, all of the music in the First Sonata may be said to exist in striated time. "Amorphous time" indicates a temporal conception in which some relationship remains partially undetermined. Beginning with Le marteau sans maitre (1954-1957), in most of Boulez's works there is a characteristically Boulezian use of rubato or heterophony, both of which are subsumed under the category of amorphous time, and even the fermata comes into its own. Rubato in Chopin allows both a measure of freedom to the melody, which "robs"from the relatively strict time values marked by the bass, and a degree of flexibility in the projection of meter. In Boulez's music, the notion of rubato is considerably extended. Rubato no longer serves only to inflect the tonal materials; this flexibility is fundamental to Boulez's conception. In a characteristicallyBoulezian inversion of tradition, there is often a continuous rubato in which the integrity of the rhythmic figures at the most immediate level must be relatively strictly respected while, paradoxically, the tempo remains in constant flux. Where Chopin's flexible surface still implied an essentially stable underlying meter, Boulez's rhythms often float on an unstable flux. There are effects of rubato throughout almost every movement of Marteau. The exception is Commentaire I de "Bourreaux de solitude,"in which a steady pulse is maintained. The syncopated tapping figures of its side drum as nearly approach metric regularity as anything in the work. The tapping figures are maintained in CommentaireII de "Bourreauxde solitude,"but the tempo is now elastic. CommentaireII opens assez rapidement,but a gradual trend toward slower tempi unfolds across the movement. Within CommentaireII, a prevailing



tempo governs any given span of time, but there are continual excursions from this tempo: ductile patterns of accelerationand return inscribe temporal arcs. This continuous oscillation of tempo interacts with the movement's overall pattern of deceleration in constituting the form of the movement, but Boulez's use of the fermata is crucial for the manner in which the form is projected. Like rubato, the fermata is a familiar unfixed element. Unlike measured silence, it seldom played a crucial role before Boulez, despite such spectacular exceptions as the opening of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. Beethoven's use of fermatas in this passage is rhetorical and dramatic:in performancethese fermatasare held for the duration of several measures. They help to articulate not only Beethoven's famous motive but the form of the movement as well. Near the end of the coda (mm. 475-82), the motive returns for the last time in its original form, that is, with fermatas, but the upbeat figure of three eighth notes has been extended by three additional measures of repeated octave G's (see Example 4). Example 4 Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67, first movement, mm. 475-482

•I ". '• . ". " • ' ' '




FF '


Although there is no indication for this in the score, these repeated eighths are generally played with a gradual ritardando. Within this ritardando, the final three upbeat eighths leading into the fermata are generally played with a further ritenuto that articulatesthe motive. As this articulationwithin an articulationserves to demonstrate, time was already malleable around the edges with Beethoven, and this could be exploited in the articulation of form. With Boulez, what was once marginal has moved squarely to the center. Within Commentaire II de "Bourreaux de solitude,"acceleration and deceleration are interrupted every few beats or measures by fermatas, "brusques coupures dans le tempo."" With these coupures, Boulez's aesthetic is close to that of the Romantic fragment. The fragments created by the coupuresresemble Romantic fragments in being at once fragmentary and whole and also slightly blurry around 2"

Pierre Boulez, Le marteausansmattre,final version (London: Universal Edition, 1957), 19.



the edges." At the same time that each fragment projects the characteristic rubato of the whole, it is equally a miniature in its own right with its own defining envelope. The undampened sonorities of xylorimba and vibraphone continue vibrating through the ruptures in the continuity, so that each burst of motion is defined by the dying curve of its own sonority. The large-scale temporal design of the movement is not projected whole but is only implicit within its fragments. A compendium of the varieties of heterophonic experience could be culled from Boulez's oeuvre.Boulez would insist on the rarity of heterophony in the traditions of Western art music, but he can cite examples both French and German to counter this generality: Beethovenused it for ornamentalpurposes-the Adagio of the Ninth Symphony-and in a certainnumberof slow movementsfromhis other late works. Debussy used heterophonicfigures with an acoustic aim -above all to "construct"his orchestra.23 22

According to Charles Rosen and Henri Zerner, Romanticismand Realism:The Art (New York: W.W. Norton, 1984), 25-26, for a Mythologyof Nineteenth-Century definition of the Romantic fragment: "[Friedrich]Schlegel's definition in the Athenaeum is ... the best place to start: 'A fragment should be like a little work of art, complete and perfect in itself, and separate from the rest of the universe, like a hedgehog.' . . . The hedgehog . . . rolls itself up into a sphere, a form that is at once perfectly geometric and yet organic, and satisfies the main Romantic desires; the edges of this sphere are a little irregular, blurred, and point outside the sphere in a way that is provocative, piquant. . . . The Romantic fragment . .. is both metaphor and metonymy. .... The most common metonymy is synecdoche, where the part signifies the whole . .. but the Romantic fragment is paradoxically intended, by its apparent completion and in many other ways, to resemble the larger unity that it implies." Boulez's interest in Antonin Artaud and Rend Char (whose poems are set in Le marteausansmattre)suggests one path from such considerationsof form to Marteau:the myriad subterraneanconnections linking surrealism and other parallel movements in France to the unstable element in German Romanticism. Another link is Berg. (Think of Schumann.) According to Boulez, with Berg's Pieces for Clarinet and Piano op. 5, "it is not . . a question, as with Webern, of the perfect microcosm; but of a gesture that is open,that one feels could be continued, diffused, multiplied. Rather like the sketches for novels in Kafka'sjournals, these pieces allow us to suspect developments unexpressed, developments beyond the actual writing with its apparent closure. They represent some sort of open form, although at the same time they are finished works." Boulez, Points, 377 (Boulez, Orientations,373). 23 Pierre Boulez, Boulez on Music Today, trans. Susan Bradshaw and Richard Rodney Bennett (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1971), 121. If Boulez's interest in heterophony stems primarily from his experience of Indian, Balinese, and Javanese music, his music also continues two Western traditions of heterophony. The first of these stems from Boulez's Beethoven examples, to which Wagner, Mahler, and Berg were all heir. The other begins with the heterophonic textures in the piano music of Chopin, Schumann, and Liszt that so influenced Debussy.



As this image of Debussy's orchestra suggests, Boulez often realizes a heterophony not so much of line as of texture. Given their simultaneously unfolding layers of texture, an Ivesian or Debussyan milie can erupt in Pli selonpli or Figures,Doubles,Prismes.Less concerned with any correspondence between the parts than in decentralizing the temporal organization, Boulez has expanded the temporal conception implicit in heterophony by introducing various measures of improvisatory indeterminacy. While the parallel lines or textures in Beethoven or Debussy may be out of phase, their relationship in notation and performance is fixed, definitive. At certain points within Don from Pli selonpli, strands of texture unfold not only independently, but with some latitude in their coordination. With the elegant oriental ceremony of Rituel (1975), the temporal relationships among the textural strands are never precisely fixed in all respects. Rituel is entirely made up of alternating quasi-heterophonic sections. Within the even-numbered sections of Rituel, up to eight instrumental groups simultaneously play homorhythmic patterns. To quote from the score, "Each instrumental group is to play in strict synchronization within itself," but: The instrumentalgroupsshould not attemptto synchronizewith each other.The conductorgiveseachgroupthe cue to startandthereaftereach continuesto play, unconducted,independentlyof the othergroups.... Dependingon the form the conductorwishes to give the section, the groupscan begin one afteranotherand end togetheror they can begin together and end one after another;any intermediatesolution is also possible.24

Section IV of Rituel, in which only three of the eight groups play, is given as Example 5. Each group includes a percussion player, which is the key to the effect that this passage will have in performance. While other instrumentalists within each of the groups hold sustained notes, the percussionists play even quarters, but a clear metric never arises: not only are there 1/32 and 3/32 rests within the parts for each percussionist, but this ceremonial beating is completely uncoordinated in performance. No single centralized temporal order governs all of the simultaneously unfolding continuities. Sonority often plays a direct role in Boulez's amorphous temporal effects. Composers within the French tradition have traditionally been sensitive to both timbre and sonority, which already assumed an 24 Pierre Boulez, Rituel, rev. version, preliminary notes (London: Universal Edition, 1975)-



independent role with Debussy. In Boulez's works, sound is linked to time with unprecedented intimacy. In Le marteausans maitre, [clat, and Ripons, works spanning three decades of Boulez's career, Boulez exploits an opposition of sonstenus(the sustained sounds of woodwind, brass, and bowed string instruments) and sonspercutis(the struck or plucked sounds of piano, celeste, harp, glockenspiel, xylophone, and so forth), and these opposed sound characteristics influence the characterof the writing. In Ripons(Part i, 198 1-1984), this opposition is made explicit in space. In the antiphony of Ripons, six soloists surround the audience at the perimeter of the hall producing the sons percutisof two pianos, cimbalom, harp, xylophone, and vibraphone. They engage in dialogue with a large traditional chamber orchestra made up of winds, brass, and strings seated at the center of the hall.'5 The chamber orchestra plays in the strict time marked by the conductor's beat while the soloists are allowed considerable flexibility in pursuing their own tempi. Although receiving periodic cues from the conductor, the soloists are only loosely coordinated with the group at the center. In Iclat (1965), the temporal charactersof the work's three clearly defined sections determine the form, but instrumentation and sonority largely determine the temporal characters. [clat's ensemble consists of a solo piano and two instrumental groups: six sustaining instruments (pairs of winds, brass, and strings) and a group of plucked or struck instruments (celeste, harp, glockenspiel, vibraphone, mandolin, guitar, cimbalom, and tubular bells). The first section of [clat is essentially scored for solo piano. The plucked and struck instruments join for the central section. In the final section, where a regular pulse is asserted for the first time, the entire ensemble plays. In this third and most propulsive section, the irregular quasi-Stravinskyan metrical groupings are measured by a steady underlying pulse.'6 Within the opening section of [clat, the sense of pulse is completely elastic. [clat opens brusquely with a precipitous salvo from the 25 No one has remarked the characteristically Boulezian use to which the technology employed in performing Riponshas been put. The digital processors that modify the sounds produced by the soloists function as a giant "heterophonizer," multiplying lines in space to create a floating heterophonic blur. The work's two opposed sound worlds are not entirely polarized: one of the pianists doubles on electric organ and the basses occasionally make a percussive use of their bows. In 198 I, Boulez recorded Eclat/Multiples(1970), an expanded version of Aclat 26 (Pierre Boulez, tclat/Multiples[New York(?): CBS Records, 1983]). This recorded performance of Aclat, which opens the expanded work, is 9 minutes, 18 seconds long. The respective durations of Aclat's three sections are 58 seconds; 7 minutes, 15 seconds; and i minute, 5 seconds.

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rapide. piano, molto crescendo,moltoaccelerando,and then excessivement This gesture comes to rest on a chord that is extended, pianissimo, by the sustaining instruments. The pianist then launches a cadenza, under which cover, one by one, the trilling sounds of the sustaining instruments imperceptibly fade. Within the cadenza, the tempo remains in constant flux, in a state of continuous accelerando or rallentando, until a rapid, regular tempo is attained at the very end. Like the slow introduction to a Haydn symphony, this opening section functions as a large-scale "upbeat" to the work's central section, but the dynamic of Boulez's form could not be more remote from Haydn's. The floating center of Aclat marks an extreme point within Boulez's oeuvre.Within its special timbral world, the sense of pulse is suspended and amorphous temporal effects are given free rein. The scintillating core of Aclatconsists of a succession of brief, brilliant, and variegated heterophonic passages punctuated by long unmeasured silences. Temporal structure seems to be determined by the rates of decay of the various sonspercutes."The tempo floats in response to the changing sonorities," as Charles Rosen has remarked of the Third Piano Sonata.27 With the still center of Aclat, we arrive at what might be called the II de metaphysics of the fermata. Where the fermatas in Commentaire "Bourreauxde solitude"made brusquescoupureswithin the continuity's fabric, Aclat'sfermatas are absorbed within a continuous process. At each fermata, music reverts to a state of pure sound as to its origin. During each fermata, the unmeasured vibration of undampened sonorities gradually subsides, leaving unmeasured silence. (Laissez vibrer is an ubiquitous indication in Boulez's scores.) Within this unique realization of the smooth continuum that Boulez's generation sought, rhythm is often no more than the vibration of sound, form a respiration of sound and silence, and silence is revealed as music's ground.

Boulez's harmonic language, too, is expressed against a vast and uninflected background. Beginning with Lemarteausansmaitre,each of Boulez's works is conceived as the projection of a single static controlling harmony, but there is a more fundamental background 27 Charles Rosen, liner notes to recordings of Boulez's Piano Sonatas I and 3 (New York: Columbia Records, 1973).



against which the specific tonalities of each of his mature works must be understood. Boulez's harmony unfolds against the background of a neutral tonal space fundamental for the floating stasis projected in his mature works. In the period from 1908-1920, a functionally neutral tonal space had been the by-product of Schoenberg's and Stravinsky's unique and particular compositional strategies. For Boulez's generation, a neutral tonal space would be an ineluctable starting point. Schoenberg's expressionist works succeeded a significant realignment of the musical elements. Emphasis had gradually shifted from the tonal framework to the elaboration of the musical surface. The forms of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven had essentially been harmonic forms. With Wagner, the development of themes or motives commanded as much importance as the underlying, increasingly ambiguous, tonal relations. Within a chromatic context, interest was increasingly focused on the local surface elaborationof highly expressive motives, motives whose dissonances were often resolved only as others arose within the flux. Music began to approach "invention in a perpetual state of becoming," as Boulez would describe Erwartung.'8 Although now fragmentary, the individual motives in Erwartungare recognizably those of a post-Wagnerian framework, if a radically transformed one. In Wagner'smusic, motivic working-out had always implied harmonic resolution, if often resolution delayed or unattained. With Erwartung, maximum instability is reached. While its motives are unstable, their tensions can only be discharged within an unstable system. The framework is in dissolution. Of the five composers who have remained talismans for Boulez throughout his career, Debussy, Stravinsky, and the three Viennese, only Stravinsky remained entirely aloof from Richard Wagner. In rejecting the faded aesthetics of self-expression that he perceived in the twilight Romanticism of the Austro-German tradition, Stravinsky necessarily rejected the rich harmonic resources of formal development that were available to him in all their complexity, particularlyas developed by Wagner and Mahler. Without denying an immediate Russian tradition upon which Stravinsky could draw-that source is variously reflected in all the works of his "Russian"period-we can see that Stravinsky turned his back on three hundred years of musical "expression"as embodied in the development of tonality. Moreover, he gradually abandoned the continuous developments of TheFirebird. Stravinsky's Russian-period works stand in marked contrast to that final paroxysm of Viennese Romanticism, the expressionism of 2s

Boulez, Relev"s,355 (Boulez, Notes, 365).



Schoenberg, Webern, and Berg. Stravinsky reduced the linear elements of music to simple melodic units, Russian folk melodies. These materials are often not even tonal, but modal, pentatonic, or based in "artificial"symmetrical scales. In short, relative to the materials of the tonal tradition they are neutral and "inexpressive"enough to begin with, and this is reinforced by their harmonization. However much Stravinsky's vertical structures may resemble those of traditional harmony, there is a prevailing relative dissonance serving to neutralize harmony in his works. Properly speaking, these chords are not dissonant, requiring resolution, but static. If only at a certain level of abstraction, the harmonic languages of Schoenberg and Stravinsky converged from opposite points. Where Schoenberg's absolute harmonic instability admitted no resolution, Stravinsky's neutralized motives and static harmonies did not require any. Schoenberg's "overbidding," no less than Stravinsky's "simplification," as Boulez once put it,29 resulted in a neutral tonal space, although with an important qualification that seems to have escaped Boulez and Stockhausen for a time. In Stravinsky's neo-modal world no less than in Schoenberg's chromatically charged one, motivic materials reserved palpable if largely frustrated tonal tendencies. There is a lingering tension between the motivic materials with their persistent tonal tendencies on the one hand and the framework with its implicit neutrality on the other. "Foreground"and "background" were essentially polarized and the neutrality was never absolute. The conception of tonal space implicit within the music of the post-war European synthesis is inextricably bound up with a characteristic treatment of register. Boulez's generation unconditionally accepted a neutral tonal space; the surfaces of the works of this group unambiguously reflect this. To effect this neutrality within a space that remains functional, Berio, Boulez, and Stockhausen have all made use of various techniques of harmonic diffusion, one of the very most important of which was directly inspired by Debussy's spacious registral effects. The last two centuries have witnessed a gradual expansion of the registral space consistently exploited in composition, but, following Debussy, Berio, Boulez, and Stockhausen were the first composers to accept broad tracts of registral space as given and, in diffusing harmonic tension, to exploit them in a thorough-going fashion. A breath-taking sense of space is apparent on virtually any page of their mature works.


Boulez, Points, 327-28 and passim (Boulez, Orientations,350-51 and passim).



Boulez employed a spacious registral canvas from his earliest essays, making use of literally the entire range of the keyboard as early as the original Notations for piano of 1944. Boulez's early works embody a fascinating conception. As Charles Rosen has indicated, in the Second Piano Sonata (1948) Boulez used space to effect a "diffusion of the several directional forces."30 Motivic writing is pressed into service to disperse the chromatic elements throughout the registral space: Example 6 Boulez:Deuxikme sonatepourpiano,finalmeasure.Used by Permissionof the Publisher, Heugel et Cie. Treslent(J=60)




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This quasi-cadential example represents only the extreme case.3' For a brief period, Boulez experimented with an absolutely neutral tonal field. By I95 1, he had moved from the works of his first period to the tabula rasa of "total serialism." With the integral serialism of Structuresia (1952), the locusclassicusfor this compositional experiment, a registral system ensured the systematic distribution of pitch throughout the entire registral field. Total serialism guaranteed in advance a neutral tonal space, but the neutrality was a purely statistical phenomenon. The neutrality of Boulez's language was not to remain a function of automatism for long, although this absolute neutrality is largely preserved in Le marteausansmaitre, the first work that Boulez completed after the first book of Structures. 30

Charles Rosen, "The Piano Music," in PierreBoulez:A Symposium,87. 3' Rosen, "The Piano Music," 87, is definitive on the relationship of motive to space in Boulez's early style. According to Rosen, "A I7th is not, for [Boulez], primarily a transposed 3rd, but a projection in musical space." This conception was adumbrated in certain of Webern's works, including the first movement of the Symphony op. 2!, and the Variations for Orchestra op. 30.



A remarkableinsaisissabilitcharacterizesLe marteausansmaitre. Its polyphony for equal voices-Marteau floats literally bass-less in the alto register-is characterized by a continuous kaleidoscopic shifting remote from anything resembling traditional motivic development. Given the static harmonic world of Marteau,this change within stasis produces "a kind of furious calm," as Charles Ives once characterized some of his own music.3' The tonal materials are neutral virtually to the point of indifference to tempo. It was relatively easy for Boulez to put such materials through their paces with varieties of amorphous time. After Marteau,Boulez decisively broke with this absolute neutrality. Boulez's technique had become sufficiently supple that he could exploit a harmonic language richer than Marteau's.Without returning to the language of Schoenberg and Berg, Boulez and Stockhausen recuperated the rich potential for development in Viennese chromaticism.33 In Boulez's early works, no controlling sonority intervened between the absolutely neutral background and the motivic writing that expressed it on the surface, although intervallic consistency was ensured by the motivic writing. The development of the continuum within his mature works enabled Boulez to express a single, central, controlling harmony.34 Boulez's continuum thus represented as much

32 Charles Ives, EssaysBeforea Sonata, TheMajority,and Other Writings,selected and ed. Howard Boatwright (New York: W. W. Norton, 1970), 36. 33 This coincided with a "rehabilitation"of Berg chezBoulez and Stockhausen that was accomplished by the mid-195os. With probable reference to Boulez, Stravinsky complained of a reaction against Webern's music "in favor of Berg's; I hear everywhere now that Webern's series are too symmetrical, that his music makes one too conscious of twelves, that la structureserielle chez Berg est plus cacbhe."Igor (Garden City: Doubleday, Stravinsky and Robert Craft, Memoriesand Commentaries I960), 98. 34 If only passively, Le marteausansmattrewas Boulez's first work to express such a sonority. Boulez's use of a single static controlling harmony represents the culmination of a long development. Robert P. Morgan, "Dissonant Prolongation: Theoretical and Compositional Precedents,"Journalof MusicTheory20 (1976): 49-9 , has shown how composers in the later nineteenth century began to "prolong" dissonant sonorities over increasingly longer spans of time. I hope to pursue this aspect of Boulez's harmony at a future date. When a score becomes available, an ideal locus for a study of the relationship of controlling sonority to the unfolding continuity in Boulez's mature works will be Ripons.The septachord with which the soloists make their entrance remains near the surface throughout much of the work. For a glimpse of Boulez's harmonic techniques in Ripons, see Andrew Gerzso, "Reflections on MusicReview i, no. I (October, 1984):23-34. A first important Repons," Contemporary approach to Boulez's harmony is Robert Piencikowski, "Nature morte avec guitare," in PierreBoulez:EineFestschriftzum 60. Geburtstag am 26. Mrz r985, ed. Josef Hiusler (Vienna: Universal Edition, 1985): 66-81. Boulez's development of the continuum



a transformation of harmonic motion as of rhythmic motion. It was crucial in Boulez's transformationof registral space. In Pli selonpli, extraordinaryeffects of space are achieved by layering strata of unfolding activity, but the constant shifts in register characteristic of the Second Sonata or Structuresare no longer required.3s The wide spacing still contributes to a diffusion of harmonic tension, but the listener is more readily able to pursue the linear argument, because the burden of harmonic diffusion now rests on a technique more fundamental than registral diffusion. Now harmonic diffusion is effected by the continuum itself. In expressing the controlling harmony, the continuum serves as a continuous outlet for the linear urges of chromaticism. In Pli selonpli, as in Gruppenor Epifanie,the tendency toward motion inherent in the chromatic materials is unchecked, but harmonic tension is diffused throughout the texture, continuously channeled through all of the lines on the surface. This is accomplished in a context where pitch has lost some degree of its priority, where motion is conveyed as much by the smoothly shifting dynamics as by any pattern of attack points. Focus is constantly shifted from the attack points, precisely the points where pitch changes, to the planing dynamics, as in Example I above from Pli selonpli. The harmonic tension conveyed along the chromatic lines is now diffused in large part by these dynamics. In the expressionist works of Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern, the very most local gestures of motive or phrase had maintained a vestige of tonal meaning, a semblance of harmonic motion. No longer are there any such gestures within the unarticulated-or continuously articulated-continuum of the post-war European synthesis. The "directional forces" are uniformly discharged at every point. Diffusion is now total. Berio, Boulez, and Stockhausen had succeeded in divorcing linear chromaticism from tonality. ***

The young Boulez once stated axiomatically that "The classical tonal idea was based in a universe defined by gravity and attraction; within works subsequent to Le marteausans maitrealso enabled him to indulge again his penchant for characteristicallylong-limbed melody, as in the earlier Soleildeseaux and Visagenuptial. 15 Within Boulez's mature works, pitch is often frozen in register at various points. Thus Boulez is able to maintain some of the traditional advantages of linear-registralconnection while exploiting a melodic style requiring spacious registral leaps. For an example of Boulez's use of this technique, see the opening vocal phrase of the first Improvisationsur Mallarme, "Le vierge, le vivace, et le bel aujourd'hui"(1957).



the serial idea in a universe in perpetual expansion."36In the realm of rhythm as of pitch, music had arrived at a relative conception. Within works written in the classical tonal system, the listener is always oriented in time. Boulez's mature works deliver the listener into a perpetual present. Tonal harmonic motion implied a dramatic conception of form; it is no accident that the tonal language of Haydn and Mozart was rooted in operabuffaor that Wagner could still invoke quasi-Aristotelian categories of peripeteiaor catharsisin describing his musical/dramaticforms. Boulez "and the Zen generation as a whole," as Stravinsky once put it, are not concerned with "movement from and toward. . . . Nor ... are these composers concerned about 'dynamic passage through,' which betrays an essentially dramatic concept."'37Boulez's processes result in forms that are decorative rather than dramatic. The Wildean paradox of decorative art-that the most profound aspect of anything is its surface-is as pertinent to Boulez as to Matisse or Vuilliard. We are more immediately aware of the liquid colors and heterophonic aureolesof sound in Riponsthan of its gradual underlying processes. Despite the clear sectional outlines revealed by its unfolding panels, Riponsis reticent in the articulation of form. With its "luxe,calme,et volupt6,"Riponsis located squarely within a certain French tradition. Boulez tends to dismiss the idea of a French tradition, or at least of a continuous one: "Celane fait pas une suite."38 Nevertheless, Ripons'colors and textures alternately recall Symphonie fantastique, The Firebird, and Le martyrede Saint Sibastien, while its chinoiserieechoes Le Rossignoland Messiaen.39 In crucial respects, the development of the post-war European synthesis seems as much the culmination of certain trends within the French tradition as a natural 36

Boulez, Relevis, 297 (Boulez, Notes, 304).

37 Igor Stravinsky and Robert Craft, Dialogues and a Diary (Garden City:

Doubleday, i963), 27-28. It should be emphasized that Stravinsky is referring specifically to Boulez, Stockhausen, and the new music in Europe ratherthan to John Cage. Pierre Boulez, Par volonti et par hasard:Entretiensavec CUlestinDelihge(Paris: a lditions du Seuil, 1975), 19. 39 The inclusion on this list of two works by Stravinsky only serves to confirm that to be a French composer in the twentieth century is to be influenced by Stravinsky. Boulez has specifically compared the manner in which Stravinsky burst on the scene with Firebirdto Berlioz's debut with Symphoniefantastique: "[The Firebird] confirms Stravinsky's orchestral mastery with a fresh vigor that I can only compare to Berlioz's Symphoniefantastique (although I know that Stravinsky was not especially fond of Berlioz . . . ). Without reservation, I would say that the modernity of the orchestration of our own time was revealed in Firebird just as the modernity of nineteenth-century orchestration was revealed in the Symphonie fantastique."Boulez, Points, 367 (Boulez, Orientations,360).



development within the history of atonality. Nor is this unique to Boulez's works. The music of Berio, Stockhausen, and Boulez alike relies on a motionless harmonic core, spacious effects of register, a characteristic "directionlessness." Before Stockhausen, effects of stasis within works from the German tradition were purely local effects, as with the mysterious dominant ninth chords that occur before the final fugue in the last movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony (mm. 647-54). Reflecting Schiller's text ("Uber Sternen muss er wohnen"), this Ivesian sonority suggests the timeless music of the spheres. In function, this dominant may prepare the subsequent D major fugue. In effect, with its repetition through eight slow measures, it seems neither consonant nor dissonant but static. A French composer writing not so very long after Beethoven could strive for large-scale effects of stasis. Edward Cone has emphasized both Berlioz's coloristic use of non-functional chords and his deceptive reverse resolutions.40 At measure Io8 of the Adagio from Romeoet Juliette, E resolves to At within the context of the tonic A major. This resolution of a true dominant by a coloristic "false"one not only serves to negate motion: it occurs at a climactic cadence where a strong tonic might have been expected. The movement as a whole is characterized by long tonic pedals. There are excursions to thirdrelated keys, but with one exception, these are never stabilized. C# minor (mm. I44ff) and F# minor (mm. 244ff) are maintained only as long as the harmony is motionless. Motion from the tonic chord of the local key immediately brings with it a return to A major. Within this evocation of a humid summer night in Verona, the listener is adrift on a sea of A. Tonality is not a static but a dynamic system. It was not effects of stasis but instabilities within tonality that precipitated Schoenberg's atonality. Schoenberg preferredthe term "pantonality"to "atonality," and this reflects a historical development. There was a proliferation within tonality itself in the late works of Liszt, Wagner, Verdi, Brahms, and Wolf. Not mincing words, Stravinsky preferred "antitonal" to describe certain harmonic features of his neoclassical and serial works.4' Adopting these terms, we can distinguish the panto4o Edward T. Cone, "Inside the Saint's Head: The Music of Berlioz," in Music:A Viewfrom Delft, SelectedEssays,ed. Robert P. Morgan (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989), 217-48. 4' "Now it well may be that I remain for a considerable time within the bounds of the strict order of tonality, even though I may quite consciously break up this order for the purposes of establishing a new one. In that case I am not atonal but antitonal.



nality of Schoenberg (expressionist or neoclassicist), Luigi Dallapiccola, Roger Sessions, or Elliott Carter from the antitonality of Boulez, Stockhausen, and Berio; Carter's dynamic conception of form is infinitely closer to Beethoven's than to Stockhausen's, despite any superficial resemblances between the tonal languages of the two post-war composers. Debussy had already drawn a paralleldistinction between French and German traditions when he claimed that "Berlioz is much further removed from Bach and Mozart than is Wagner. He is less tonal than Wagner."4' Far from leveling all distinctions, the history of atonality has preserved them intact. This opposition naturally extends all the way to the level of form. Boulez admires certain forms of Berlioz for being "cachees."43 In the Adagio from RomeoetJuliette, the key of the dominant appears only briefly in the final moments of the work (mm. 367ff), serving not as an architectural fulcrum but to amplify the movement's climax. This special effect is unforeseen in what has gone before, "hidden" as the recapitulations of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven are not, as the staggering climaxes of Wagner and Mahler are not. Similarly nurtured by divergent harmonic traditions, the formal ambitions of Schoenberg and Boulez are fundamentally incomparable, as Sessions implicitly suggested in defending Schoenberg's neoclassical forms: When people call Schoenberga neoclassicist,the point is, he was

grappling with large musical design. ... With some of the music [Boulez's, Stockhausen's] that would be called non-neoclassic ... you

don'treallyhave a largedesign .... With all admissionthat [Boulez]is a very gifted man, I don'tever feel a sense of largedesign. I .... enjoy listeningto it, but afterI'veheardit, I don'thavea feelingof the pieceas a whole.44

Boulez's language does not imply harmonic form, traditionally conceived, but the unfolding of a perpetual present. Form may be said to radiate from a static core. This temporal orientation is inherent in the very nature of the continuum through which Boulez's language and forms are expressed. With the smooth planing of the dynamics I am not tryingto arguepointlesslyoverwords:it is essentialto knowwhatwe deny and what we affirm."(Stravinsky,Poetics,53.) "Perhapsthe most significantdevelopmentin the Movements. . . is theirtendencytowardanti-tonality."(Stravinsky and Craft,Memories, io i.) EdwardLockspeiser: HisLifeandMind(London:CassellBooks, 1962), Debussy: 42


3 Conversation of i8 October i987 with the author. Andrea Olmstead, Conversationswith Roger Sessions(Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1978), 78. 44



throughout much of Pli selonpli or the amorphous timbral effects of Eclat, we pursue a process of continuous change. Attention is focused less on patterns revealed from attack point to attack point, on successions of parsed spans, than on continuous and instantaneous changes occurring in the present.45 Paralleling developments within the other arts, the language expressed through Boulez's continuum has inevitably had a corrosive effect on central formal tenets of the work of art as traditionally conceived in the West. In some of Jackson Pollock's last paintings, the edge of the canvas fortuitously ends processes that could be indefinitely extended. Where Boulez dispenses with the frame of tonality, Pollock's pictures are hung without frames. John Ashbery has rejected the epiphanies of Joyce and Proust rather than privilege these moments artificially. Without such rhetorical privileges, how is form to be articulated? In the realm of music, these privileges had essentially been the prerogative of tonality, in which sense Schoenberg's or Carter's music must still be considered tonal. With Boulez's "antitonality" the old concept of form as a closed, self-contained dramatic whole gives way to a series of open static works. Dramatic relations within a work are displaced to a higher level; to a series of juxtapositions between works based on the same material or between versions of a single work. The very relation of the composer to his material is changed: I would say that on the creativeplane I live in a kind of plasmathat permitsme to shift my locationby movingto and fro. I remainin the same materialand projectmy thoughtsin severaldirectionsat once. I now have a supple materialthat allows me this driftingin time, these diversions[recreations]. That is why I have made severalversionsof Pli selonpli and am consideringan expansionof Iclat.46 As he acknowledged in the citation at the head of this essay, Boulez may have learned from German music about "a continuity and development . . . that the French have rarely had," but it is the French "instinct for harmony" expressed through his continuities and forms that has enabled him to pursue his recreations.More astonishing 45 It seems likely that most music will require both kinds of attention; it is a question of emphasis. In so far as a "Rossini crescendo" is a crescendo, we pursue it as continuously as Boulez's smooth surfaces. At the same time, other more fundamental aspects of the same passage would still require the parsing of spans demarcated by attack points and so forth. 46 Pierre Boulez: "Musique traditionelle-un paradis perdu?," The Worldof Music 9, no. 2 (I967): 8, author's translation.



is the extent to which so many of Boulez's European contemporaries, too, have exploited a tonal language on the French model in pursuing their floating stasis. Even a composer so clearly within the mainstream of German developmental traditions as Stockhausen understands wie die Zeit vergeht only from the perspective of the still center of the universe. This unprecedented pan-European influence of the French harmonic tradition played a preponderant role in determining the essential character of the post-war European synthesis. University of Chicago LIsT OF WORKS CITED

Texts Barzun, Jacques. Berlioz and His Century. 3rd ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982. Boulez, Pierre. Boulez on Music Today.Translated by Susan Bradshaw and Richard Rodney Bennett. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 197i. "Debussy's Orchestral Music." Liner notes to recordings of Debussy's orchestral music. New York: Columbia Records (D3M 32988), 1974. "Musique traditionelle-un paradis perdu?" The Worldof Music 9, no. 2 (1967): 3-10. ,. Par volontietpar hasard:EntretiensavecCilestinDeliege.Paris: iditions du Seuil, 1975. . Points de repere.Rev. ed. Paris: Christian Bourgois, 1985 (Englishlanguage edition: Orientations.Translated by Martin Cooper. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1986). . Relevisd'apprenti.Paris: iditions de Seuil, 1966 (English-language edition: Notes of an Apprenticeship.Translated by Herbert Weinstock. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1968). Carter, Elliott. The Writingsof Elliott Carter.Edited by Elsa and Kurt Stone. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1977Cone, Edward. "Inside the Saint's Head: The Music of Berlioz." In Music:A Viewfrom Delft, SelectedEssays, edited by Robert P. Morgan, 217-48. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989. Gable, David. "Ramifying Connections: An Interview with Pierre Boulez." Journal of Musicology4 (1985-86): 105-1 3. MusicReview i, no. Gerzso, Andrew. "Reflectionson Repons." Contemporary I (October 1984): 23-34. Heyworth, Peter. "The First Fifty Years." In Pierre Boulez:A Symposium, edited by William Glock, 3-39. London: Eulenburg Books, 1986. Ives, Charles. EssaysBeforea Sonata, TheMajority,and OtherWritings.Selected and edited by Howard Boatwright. New York: W. W. Norton, 1970. Lockspeiser, Edward. Debussy:his Life and Mind. 2 vols. London: Cassell Books, 1962. Morgan, Robert P. "Dissonant Prolongation:Theoretical and Compositional Precedents."Journal of Music Theory20 (1976): 4-9 I.



Olmstead, Andrea. Conversationswith RogerSessions.Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1987. Piencikowski, Robert. "Nature morte avec guitare." In Pierre Boulez: Eine Festschriftzum 60. Geburtstagam 26. Marz 1985, edited by Josef Hiusler, 66-8 . Vienna: Universal Edition, 1985. Rimbaud, Arthur. A Seasonin Hell and The DrunkenBoat. Bilingual edition translated by Louise Varese. New York: New Directions, i96i. Rosen, Charles. Liner notes to recordings of Boulez's First and Third Piano Sonatas. New York: Columbia Records (M 3216i), 1973. . "The Piano Music." In PierreBoulez:A Symposium,edited by William Glock, 85-97. London: Eulenburg Books, 1986. and Realism:TheMythologyof Rosen, Charles, and Henri Zerner. Romanticism Art. New York: Nineteenth-Century Viking Press, 1984. Stearns, David Patrick. "Pierre Boulez: The Evolution of a Revolutionary." Ovation(July 1986): 20-22, 24, 29. Stravinsky, Igor. Poetics of Music in the Form of Six Lessons.Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1970. with Stravinsky.Berkeley Stravinsky, Igor, and Robert Craft. Conversations and Los Angeles: University of California Press, i980. . Dialoguesand a Diary. Garden City: Doubleday, 1963. . Memoriesand Commentaries. Garden City: Doubleday, i960. Thomson, Virgil. A Virgil ThomsonReader.Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1981. Werckmeister, Otto Karl. The Making of Paul Klee's Career: 1914-1920o. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989. White, Eric Walter. Stravinsky: The Composerand his Works. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1966. Editions of Boulez's Music Boulez, Pierre. DeuxidmeSonatepour Piano. Paris: Heugel, 1950. . Le marteausans maitre, final version. London: Universal Edition, '957. . Pli selonpli, i. Don. London: Universal Edition, 1967. . PremiereSonatepour Piano. Paris: Iditions Amphion, 1951. . Rituel: In memoriamBrunoMaderna,revised version. London: Universal Edition, 1975Recording Boulez conducting members of the Ensemble Boulez, Pierre. dclat/Multiples. InterContemporain. New York [?]: CBS Records (74Io9), 1983. ABSTRACT

Pierre Boulez is typical of a post-war generation of European composers known for its apparent repudiation of tradition, although the synthesis of such composers as Boulez, Berio, and Stockhausen can be shown to be firmly rooted in tradition. Tendencies within both Franco-Russian and AustroGerman traditions merged in the formation of Boulez's style. This is



reflected both in Boulez's first models, Messiaen and Webern, and by his life-long engagement with both Schoenberg's expressionism and the works of Stravinsky's Russian period. Wagner, Mahler, and Schoenberg had developed a continuous dynamic inflection that Stravinsky, by the 192os, rejected in his neoclassical works. Boulez's generation reintegrated these tendencies within the absolutely smooth continuums to be found in many of their works. In Boulez's mature works, there is a continuous system of smoothly planing dynamics. No longer expressive inflection, these dynamics exhibit the clean objective character of Stravinsky's discrete dynamic planes. This dynamic continuum was crucial in creating the continuous through-composed forms of Boulez and Stockhausen. Boulez's rhythmic structures are ultimately rooted in Stravinsky's motor rhythms and Schoenberg's prose rhythms, an opposition he has exploited in many works. Schoenberg's and Stravinsky's essentially neutral tonal space furnished the background for the post-war European harmonic language in which harmonic tensions are diffused both by spacious effects of register and by the continuously graded dynamics. The floating stasis projected in Boulez's mature works is as much a culmination of certain trends within the French harmonic tradition as a natural development within the history of atonality. With the post-war generation in Europe, the French harmonic tradition enjoyed unprecedented influence.

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