Pierre Boulez is probably the last real avant-garde classic and one of biggest serial technique and generally new music masters. As a young man he was inspired by conclusions of New Vienna School. He was swayed especially by Arnold Schoenberg’s works. And before many others he understood serial music has only one chance to avoid closure in mathematic formulas. Looking for the way to unbind musical series, trying to move the musical potential contained in twelve-tone complicated by rhythmic or dynamic series. Building them as analogy and creating almost impossible to seize number of variants, he was trying to open musical form and make it universal container for emotions, for cosmopolitan-like acceptance of mutability.
The idea of music which can’t be useful for totalitarian propaganda was very important part of composers attitude. As many intellectualists in post-war Europe, he evoking fundamental question of how nazism could happen on the ground of European culture. And with fellow composers in Darmstadt School he was trying to create the style and methods which were able to became antidote for intellectual and emotional structures leading to totalitarian society and nationalistic frenzy. Important element of his anti-totalitarian style was aleatoric music, which should be understand as a technique of creating resultant output with incidental changes. The degree of changes is always the matter of compositor’s decision. From controlled to radical aleatorism there were many different solutions but idea was unquestionable, destroying transcendent position of composer, who in traditional European music was like divine creator while director hold position of the tyrant. In works of aleatoric stream many composers – Boulez, Stockhausen, Lutosławski, Xenakis, Ligeti – were working on redefining position of composer as creator.
|Pierre Boulez - Piano Music vol. 1. Charles Rosen|
His Piano Works are both serial and aleatoric. As I pointed before there is no contradiction between them. Serial and punctual music were the steps in the same direction as the very next step approaching aleatoric music and controlled chance method. This gave music freedom in creating wider spaces. Sonatas performed by Charles Rosen create almost immediate climax of classical equilibrium between „what” and „how”. Structures are absolutely transparent, and the space between sounds makes listeners feel totally comfortable. And this makes Pierre Boulez classic of XX century.