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Pierre Boulez: Organised Delirium
Title Details

208 Pages

23.4 x 15.6 cm

19 music exx. and 4 b/w illus.

Imprint: Boydell Press

Pierre Boulez: Organised Delirium

by Caroline Potter

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Exploring the emotional and cultural influences on Pierre Boulez's early works as well as the role surrealism and French culture of the 1930s and 40s played in shaping his radical new musical concepts.

Pierre Boulez's (1925-2016) creative output has mostly been studied from an analytical perspective in the context of serialism. While Boulez tends to be pigeonholed as a cerebral composer, his interest in structure coexisted with extreme visceral energy. This book redresses the balance and stresses the febrile cultural environment of Paris in the 1940s and the emotional side of his early works.


Surrealism, in particular, had an impact on Boulez's formative years that has until now been underexplored. There are intriguing links between French music and surrealism in the 1930s and 40s, arising within a cultural context where surrealism, ethnography and the emerging discipline of ethnomusicology were closely related. Potter situates the young Boulez within this environment. As an emerging musician, he explored radical new musical concepts alongside peers including Yvette Grimaud, Serge Nigg and Yvonne Loriod, performing and exchanging ideas with them.


This book argues that authors associated with surrealism, especially René Char but also Antonin Artaud and André Breton, were crucial to Boulez's musical development. It enhances our understanding of his work by connecting it with significant trends in contemporary French culture, refocusing Boulez studies away from detailed musical analysis and towards a broader and more visceral, emotional response to his work.
List of illustrations
List of music examples
Acknowledgements
Introduction: Organised delirium
Chapter 1: Surrealism in the 1930s and 40s
Chapter 2: 'A flayed lion': Boulez as student
Chapter 3: Serialism and surrealism: Boulez's instrumental music 1946-8
Chapter 4: Boulez and Char
Chapter 5: The charm of numbers: continuing threads in Boulez's later music
Bibliography
Index

CAROLINE POTTER is Visiting Reader in French Music at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. With Boydell she published Erik Satie: A Parisian Composer and his World (2016) which was named Sunday Times classical music book of the year.

"It's a revelation." Tom Service, Music Matters, BBC Radio 3
"While not strictly a biography, Organised Delirium provides interesting insight into the composer-conductor's education - particularly his studies with Messiaen and Leibowitz, his dalliances with writings by René Char and Antonin Artaud, a fascination with the ondes martenot, and the impact that these formative years would have throughout his life." BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
"Potter shows how analysis, history and aesthetics can be connected in a fascinating and convincing way, while each of the building blocks comes into their own." OPUS KLASSIEK

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9781837650859

March 2024

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Title Details

208 Pages

2.34 x 1.56 cm

19 music exx. and 4 b/w illus.

Imprint: Boydell Press