Thursday, May 20, 2010

Serialism itself was, for me and for my generation, very helpful because it gave a very strict discipline; and then after that, one can go everywhere. I suppose that' s exactly like, in the classical language, writing very strict counterpoint. It offers very strict constraints; it forces you to find a solution where you think there is no solution. After you have done that, you have a flexibility and a richness of invention which you could not have learned anywhere else.

AC: Michel Foucault once attributed what he called his &quotfirst great cultural jolt" to French serialism, and especially to you and Barraqué. Did you and Foucault influence each other?

I met Foucault very early, as a matter of fact, in 1951; but for a while I did not see him, because I was out of France. And he was out of France, also. Then, when we met again, that was very late in life--I mean, not terribly late, but it was not until I came back to France, especially in 1976, that I saw him quite frequently. But I knew his books, certainly. I think we are of the same generation. Therefore the way of thinking was very close, even without speaking about it. This kind of proximity of thinking, of looking at things, does not necessarily imply that thinkers are speaking together every day. When you compare us... For instance, look at the trajectory of Webern and the trajectory of Mondrian: here are two people who never saw each other, who never spoke to each other, who were completely ignorant of the other' s work. But you can see a very, very strong parallelism between the two trajectories. And I think that with Foucault the case is similar. At a certain time we met, and then for a certain period we did not meet at all; we were informed about each other, but that was all. Afterwards, when real meetings took place much more often, there was finally the opportunity of talking to each other.

Boulez interviewed in 1993 by Andrew Carvin and Joshua Cody, Paris Transatlantic

[An aversion to wholesale theft prevents me from quoting Boulez on composition with computers, Boulez on film, Boulez on Ligeti, Boulez on opera, Boulez on postmodernism and more ]

[And, on the other side, there is an interview of Betsy Jolas, who comments:

No, I don't think there is much innovation going on there anymore. It seems that it has become bogged down with a very intricate bureaucracy. And it is just stuck. The idea was that the technology would serve as a seamless conduit for the composers to produce beautiful art, but it's not happening.

What I think is that the whole thing turned around the personality of Pierre Boulez. He's no longer the center of it, and the man who has taken that in charge is not a composer... What happened really, let us be very frank, is that IRCAM was built around his personality. It is very strange- well it is very clever to have done that. "Je tire mon chapeau" [Hats off] as they say, to his achievement: to be able to organize an institution to serve his own interests, and his own problems, too. This has nothing to do with my admiration for Pierre Boulez, whom I think is a great man, I really do. I just think he has problems, that's all. But he is a very important musician. I have to admire somebody who can raise (this is what my husband used to say) who can raise his problems to the height of an institution.

Well he did good stuff too, it worked well for France in that it also raised interest in contemporary music...

In a small fringe, and it put that fringe in the forefront, though it was very controlled. It's very strange; I have to admire him, because generations of composers flock around him - still, still. We flocked around him, and then comes another generation, and then another, and they're still doing it! As for me, I have a very strange and warm relationship with him when I can see him away from "la cour." [the court] I believe he's a great composer. At least he was. I don't really know if he still is. Sometimes I wonder if he is truly composing today. His talent, his genius, was so extraordinarily precocious.


It's a very strange thing, he's probably the musician who best understood Debussy; nobody has spoken about Debussy as well as he has. He was the first one to really understand Debussy, and nobody conducts Debussy the way he does. But I believe deeply inside, he thinks Debussy is no way to go. Whereas I think its a way to go that has not been explored. That's where we differ. Totally! I think this is where I want to go, and I think at this point that I can do it. We've talked about that. It's hard to talk to him, but we've talked about that. It's hard to find a time when he's not surrounded by people. We used to find those times easily, but now it's very difficult. Deep inside he still has this very incredible sensitivity, which I respect in him. He's a great musician and a great French musician. There are not really so many of those.

-- Also from 1993. If the Internet had been then what it is today, I would no doubt have read it at time of publication. Of all sad words of tongue or pen.]

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