Sets and the City: Serial Analysis, Parisian Reception, and Pierre Boulez's Structures 1a

Parsons, Ben

In April 1952, subscribers to the latest edition of the Paris-based journal La Revue musicale could, for the first time, have read the following declaration, separated from the main text by asterisks:

Affirmons, à notre tour, que tout musicien qui n' a pas ressenti - nous ne dissons pas compris, mais bien ressenti - la nécessité de la langage dodécaphonique est INUTILE. Car son toute oeuvre se place à deçà des nécessités de son époque. (Boulez 1952d:119)

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The statement has since come to caricature our experience of high musical modernism. Its uncompromising tone has ensured the author's place in a narrowly defined historiography that continues to see him as the defender of a universal ("toutmusicien"; "son toute oeuvre") and abstract ("la langage dodecaphonique") musical system. The author, of course, was the then still relatively unknown Pierre Boulez, writing here in his early article "Eventuellement ... ".


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August 18, 2022