Monday, December 6, 2010


For tonight's performance of Pierre Boulez's music by the Talea ensemble at Miller Theater, the theater provided a short video, below, including some tantalizing excerpts of Derive I and the new (2006) Derive II. The video is provided as a promo and I guess it worked: tickets for the Miller's 600-plus seats are sold out.

Pierre Boulez Composer Portrait Preview from Miller Theatre on Vimeo.

My experience with Boulez began as an undergraduate at Trenton State College, introduced to his music by my composition professor, Laurence Taylor, who was a friend of Boulez's. While some of the early revolutionary scores like Le Marteau sans maitre and Structures for two pianos mystified me, I fell in love with Pli selon pli and Le Soliel des eaux, both of which highlight voices, and, later, Rituel, a more impressionistic work evoking monastic ceremony. I attended the New York premiere of the massive "Repons", a landmark score for its use of interactive computer transformations among other things. Through reading about him I discovered the music of Berio, Ligeti, Xenakis and others, composers that still serve as inspirations for experimentation and models for what is possible.

Someday, when I sort it all out, I'll be able to talk about the ways in which my exposure to Boulez's music in particular has shaped my own. I recall studying his treatise on his compositional technique, "On Music Today" while I was writing my first works in extended forms. Definitely there were some practical ideas that incorporated. But it's more than that. While my music is vastly different, far simpler, I am deeply moved by this stuff. Listening to a Boulez score is like watching patterns in cloud formations, or patterns on the surface of a lake--ephemeral, chaotic, astoundingly beautiful.

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