A conversation with...; Pierre Boulez, part one
Conversation with Pierre Boulez. This is another in a continuing series of programs each of which offers the listener a rare opportunity to hear an eminent musician informally discussing his own career and expressing his thoughts about a variety of topics related to the art of music. The regular participants in these discussions are Aaron Parsons professor of music theory at Northwestern University's School of Music and program annotator for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. And George Stone program director for Zenith radio corporation's serious music station WEAA FM in Chicago. Mr. Parsons and Mr. Stone have as their guest on today's program the eminent conductor and composer. The air bill is conductor designate of the BBC Symphony Orchestra and founder of the demesne Music Hall concerts in Paris. Now here is Aaron Parsons Mr Boulez as the demands on you as a conductor have increased. You must find it difficult to find time to compose. You are now in Chicago to conduct the Chicago Symphony
Orchestra. You just came from Boston. You will be with the New York Philharmonic. How have you resolved this competition for your time now. Well I think I saw I devote some part of the year to conducting and after that I just keep my time only for composing. I kind of mix and match the two activities some time in the States because the schedules are not so heavy. And for instance they are in London for me at least you have for us only four here back to two and a half hours and that's that's not takes so much time especially if you know the school you're conducting already. Therefore even now when I am in this country I can work for myself more or less about you know some hours here and there. That's not the most have been way to be quiet for composing for five months. Exactly. Completely off and I don't want to conduct anything anyone can propose me as a most wonderful propositions I
don't accept anything because I want to go home and the only way to do. If you're really so spare the time and don't wait expect that somebody will do it for us. You must not be the drone in this business of conducting. Otherwise you cannot do anything. I gather from this that in spite of the fact that you seem to be conducting more and more you would not consider seriously a full time position as music director of an orchestra. Well as a matter of fact I have accepted what I said from 71 on September 21 from the beginning of the season but a very special one I accepted the position of musical director of the main connector of the BBC in London. Yes but that's a quite different position because you have not the same obligations for instance like you with here first and second I can. I think I saw something you in the musical life.
Which is possible with a flexible organization like you. And that's much more possible that I think I saw that in this country. Everything I saw is in a very stiff frame for the time being at least I think everybody's aware of that of that all these frames will transform themselves so it will be transformed within maybe a couple of years that within 10 years or 15 years I don't know exactly but I mean the work becomes very easy and difficult almost. Blige to conventional problems for going to the frame is so conventional and that's the main difficulty and I was not surprised that I don't know about it. Big article stuff in the New York Times last Sunday and I was amazed that he had exactly the same ideas particular to find that he's very it's very difficult for me. We
can stick a straining flame. Having not seen the article in The Times I probably should keep away from it altogether. I do want to add however. William Steinberg apparently is not dismayed by this rigorous kind of frame that you speak of because he's undertaking music directorship of both Mr. Leinsdorf orchestra and his own Pittsburgh Symphony. Yes but the main problem is can you and those circumstances especially after taking a stance which is so more difficult can you know really organize regional problems. I mean I don't speak only of contemporary music which is a point I would like to emphasize you cannot within the systems just for your sense of weak and for shortness. That said you cannot really. Put very original programs first because there is a
lack of time for properly this difficult piece new pieces that nobody have read before. And second really that's very difficult to organize also concepts with much larger amount of works in the history of music I mean I never see phones are very rarely very adequate conditions. I never see bad music properly performed in a symphony hall in good very good laughs and the music played in the symphony hall I have never seen for instance a combination of chorus and orchestra playing very interesting works of the sixteenth century US and in century does not exist simply so you know the main appeal of an artist and then you can not only of course if you are strain yourself to Mozart. To mother that's exactly the time or so the history that you cover with such a thing even though you don't
see very often because of course everybody is scared when you pay 400 musicians 150 musician and you have only 40 musicians playing. You know that's an economic and in a comical way of organizing things and I can understand that everybody wants the money that if war is really if you use every musician at the maximal house then everybody is glad. So I mean a company economically speaking but artistically that's not rewarding at all and because that makes it smaller and smaller and everybody else so especially when you are connecting most of the time they don't want to have the balance of. Risky performances because you say well I have only four performances I cannot put programs very adventurous because not only because you are afraid of the audience reactions and for me that's not count at all but only That's you fear you have a feeling that you have definitely not the
proper time to have a program which is you know we listen to the experience for instance in Boston they have never played the pieces of a six by bed they have never paid for it. And then after a Jew only 10 years ago which is practically new. And then what you have and so I had on the program and whether they have played hide and seek money which is not a problem anyway. I mean but I mean if you are five and five items are you three are particularly new. That's very difficult that's when you are under time pressure and I find that's a very very good willing and very good it has been found because they are they are working very hard and they are conscious of the situation and they try to keep on in spite of the of the small amount of time which is devoted to that. Here are the Boston programs prepared also with for rehearsal.
They give me extra time was there because we so everybody so that's that's what's he to do a kind of a performance without having to exit. Well of course one recalls that when you made your first appearance I believe as a conductor of opera you demanded Paris and got an unprecedented 40 rehearsals for the 30th but that's what I think makes a better story. Well you know yes I'm the president. The snow is not going to actually know I had a chance and that's was already plenty I thought I was sick. But I ask that scene a complete knowledge of the situation in guys first. You know the situation is going to tell us all the islands that's not trained properly trained up is that if you're going to
say that's not a problem. That's not so. Problem and that's was my first season because I knew that I was really a very good individual people but the discipline of playing together. I mean August on pay day was very very low. So I had to care about that and the second that they have never played and they never publicly perform and you have never performed in New York I synced for 30 years and so you know and they have even the smallest about why are they all well as I guess and so they are playing it out running as a since 20 years now maybe and are six of us altogether. And even Wagner and you think you know and that's it we are incredible. And imagine for instance that basketball was not played in the band is up in our sins. Thirty eight. More than 31 years never played and then I say if you see that's
such a point then you must see that reading is also not very good and you have to do a lot of things. Therefore I asked for so many guesses because for each condition and is not a very easy I mean especially the second person especially if you can but the second is that if you can. And so I asked do you mean that the orchestra in the same time I was within the score and I think I said the experience was very good because I believe I was of course very happy to do this and at least as a beginning it was not at the request that you wondered talk. Yes ask me to conduct the performances and I must say it was very fair because my conditions where the same from the very beginning I did not take him by surprise when he asked me I told him I will do it but only under very heavy conditions and I
have so. With little confidence in French people you know as organized as organizers. I put that in my contract that I want to have this amount of yes or no and so on and I was not surprised when Shante recently I felt from somebody that's in Hamburg need exactly the same because he's also against the system you know replacing musician us and which is really a disaster. You know I was actually because you have never said they were sure to have the same people exactly front of you the same fans and the same the other scene as you know you have constantly had changing according to the U.S. a little bit. And you kind of if you would do concerts and the same circumstances that would be you would be just booed and I was not surprised that for that's salty also with his contract with him was that he would have exactly the same players each time and that was four months out of that was not what I mean. But
I think that's exactly as essential for a Mozart opera as far as for better because I have heard myself sometimes in places and performances of course even today which were so. Bad and bad and then I think that's what the all system also is just falling into pieces now because that's not only a question of musical artistic interest but I think. It's a sociological fact also the society is changing very fast and having other way of living. But the organizations a musical organization are still living in the 19th century. You know they are still not considering at all it's society as if it considerably and the demands are not the same the way of organizing things must not be the same and therefore I say I think everybody's conscious of that. I've spoken myself with musicians in the orchestra as a
long talk especially with the concert leader in Boston and it's as of last night and I think everybody is aware of that but nobody knows exactly how to change it because that's a lot of problems difficult economical problems social problems union problems and everything like that. The one thing that probably has been brought up more frequently than any other single point in connection with modern music in this programme series is the fact that there seems to be a universal problem it doesn't make much difference whether we're talking about Chicago or Detroit or Boston or New York or Vietnam. Audiences need to be led to the acceptance of modern music. They will not voluntarily and I'm speaking of the general subscription audiences they will not voluntarily accept this music they they have to have it rather spoon fed to them Do you agree with this.
Well I am not baby feeding us something like that. I think I saw that's where the problem must be solved much more intelligently than that. First I think that the system of automatic subscription is hard work. You cannot you have many kind of audiences and you want to feed them exactly with the same food you do for instance country music very you know a lot of exciting as a feeling that people will not like it and so if you don't really so impose your ideas you will never get something and to my opinion the system of having just one so it's up to us not us and so and you you give them all with the same problem. I mean you are trying to do justice to our to our range. Everybody I mean the conservative one the adventurous one. That's impossible you know that's possible in life. So I find I find the first solution has to be to split the series first and to make people aware if there are going to a museum concert to a gallery concert
called by comparison with painting you know the people going to gallery to exhibition in county are and knowing that they are going to see something new and they're excited about it. People are going to museums want to see only pieces. Sure. In a concert that's exactly the same. But you know you can set you apart are so big paintings which are accepted by everybody and you give something which is not accepted by everybody. Can imagine that part of audiences are always happy either because you put something and because you put something on somebody and I think I saw the first thing is to give us all people and give them a series for that especially And then after you can try to mix audiences and filmmakers so like retrospective exhibition of something of a painter in a museum that exists also in this formula. But one must be very clear about the various trends in establishing programs and not trying
exactly to make these baby food you know and and moreover I think I saw you know you have no opportunity to control your actions for instance. You can start with a new work. You put it once and finished. Nobody has the opportunity anymore to listen to it and I am sure that many people when confronted listening that's the second time would maybe appreciate it more because then they maybe understand a little bit more. But what I think mainly that's completely a complete lack of coordination between the audience and the orchestra. Life generally. You know these meeting which is a concert and then there is absolutely no other opportunity of meeting the music and meeting the people. I mean for instance if you have in a concert hall some lectures before the concert for instance not to be done to collector but just an introduction to the music performance of
Tate for instance. Our disc X-Plane may be going to here for an amount of time. Yes of course not the normal Yes of course that's just pop optional and that's. People know that's the house where the cuts at either house of music and not on your guest are where they come just to have a meal. You know that's in the conception of the artist how easily that's come by able to rest on. When you come you buy a ticket you have a meal and you go and find that's not a conception of conception at all. That's a match and conception of a Meccan conception. That's not at all not is to counter musical conception. No real musical conception would be to have a center where people can meet the music and the people and with many contacts and with that type of effort to make them aware that's the modern each of them is not so difficult after all.
If they just listen to it more frequently but if you listen to it work only once you know and that's like people who don't like cold water you know they're just afraid when they put the two in it all at the end they go away from the scene you know. And one time only you know exactly. That's not exactly the way you used the term though a minute ago which I think we can't dismiss you said. It's a mercantile approach and it is indeed because this problem also I am sure is tied up with economics and. I imagine the music director of an orchestra which depends. Certainly not upon the subscription for its sustenance because the subscription doesn't suffice even if the house is full. There is a deficit. But if the house is half full. This increases the deficit and also like the football team that doesn't win. The trustees begin to
look around for a new coach you know. Well that's a big problem to have. That's what that was all about and you know the time of the getting is going to especially because and then more difficult to find of course. But I mean you cannot base you can only on a very small class. I mean I am not. This type of idealism because I know that that is to go to fabrics and play concerts for workers in families because you waste your time because they are not prepared to do that much more long run from going to these type of course I mean well people are able to pay for it and even to pay for the deficit within a very small social class as a class generally but you dont know if people who have not the money but
liking to participate took it and I would not have very different tastes. Only the money keep them away from the concert hall and says if you have if you have to pay for I dont know exactly the prices but I suppose ten dollars for tickets for instance. That makes a lot of money for people with not much money and we're going to only involved fans as they cannot afford to do that and I mean that's after after time to resign. So we don't go to the concert that's all. So you are depending also. Of this money which is quite different think of just the cultural I mean and then there is a discrepancy and the discrepancy is more and more sharper and sharper. If you are just given to a certain class of people the music they want because you select them and you make you kind of get to where everybody else is not accepted. And I felt so that's not
that's not and we have doing things spoken from France and America was part of this. Yeah ethically aware if you speak with them I don't say everybody of course not because you cannot make generalities in every case but very many people who have spoken are aware of that they don't want to impose that this they consider for instance responsibility like like really a civic responsibility. They don't want to be just those who pay an orchestra just for having fun with that. So like you buy a car for once and for yourself they're conscious of a concert that's not being for his own enjoyment only but really to have civic responsibility with the cultural life of the city. I've spoken for instance with something like that and therefore I don't accept by principle. Only the separative taste
because I think I saw that part. Not bending that people just so insisting and being stepped on but making them confident in some effort you do the only think if you're going to provide this kind of diversified programming would seem to me that you're going to have to provide some kind of subsidy from the state you mean the state. That's a very important problem. I mean in this country everybody is talking about state subsidies and I think that's where you will go to state subsidies Finally there is a danger in it because if you are if you have people in a state that's a mystery I mean then I say everything goes wrong. You know that's what I think I said the English system is the best. That's like the majors also in Germany. That's half private and harsh. So there is a balance between the two. You cannot The state cannot
do what it wants and people cannot do only what they want us I mean they cannot also you know they have a responsibility and responsibility of the state but the state also I specifically for these organizations. Allen says the other. Exactly. Because in France for instance all the state sponsored. That's very difficult and always clashes between individuals and the state. But as I say. The U.S. France and Israel are so much more subtle and much more flexible and there is no danger that a ship from both sides. Which is the main problem to solve because you don't want a dictatorship of money people have the money and you don't want to have a dictatorship of the state also which is the case when See the example of Russia for instance. Everything is just closed and therefore us which is the example of sort of it. But
for me such is in the balance and the states give a pass to some individuals to have a responsibility and that's the only system which to my opinion can function with quite a lot of independence and also quite a lot of responsibility and responsibility. I wonder if we might turn back to those early years to learn something of how he came to be a composer conductor. Most of the material we have picked you up at about the time you studied a year of mathematics that you don't we don't know very much of what happened and that was about the age of 16 yes. So we don't know very much about what happened to you before. Well you know I have no no story to tell. It was just plain. We did so and after I began to study mathematics because I had some gift for that I just gave up very
rapidly to music exclusively but I had already a musical education when I was younger. And yes you started out you know that you were a pianist. Yes. When did you begin to study. Well I think so as far as I said this was a yes. Did you study other subjects along with a piano in music. I want everything because you know in France when you when you learn an instrument that's automatically the whole package. Yeah they're all like yes exactly. But I think that's very good I must say. That's one in the musical education from the aspects which are very controversial it's come to us and forgot some of this but that is a very good aspect because let's give you a very solid background for reading and for hearing that I love a wedding either so that's fine and if I compare the level inferences
from this particular part of your training for success and I think that's still a so the best method and in fact it was it. Definitely. One small personal matter I gather that your father was somewhat objected to you were pursuing a musical career. Well you are also a very common story. Has he been accepted your time since 25 years I think you have to think about. Well when you left. You went to the conservatory in Paris. Yes I was present because in this time you know you may not remember because you were not involved in the situation but France was divided into sections with your forces and I was in the south part and the place was in the north and the south.
You could not go easily from one part or another one. That's exactly like the city. Between West and you you had to have a special passes. And this was not easy but at the end of forty two forty three France was entirely occupied and that was something good because I could go to Paris and then I went to the concert and I studied with this year especially now I believe that you can sit where you started on the harmony with Miss You know how many with us you know let us pick Lee thinking there were not a lot of good papa. Father father good teachers but that was one place I read that you had too much personality to be a good professor. Oh no that I have never seen say that no other country. I think that's
the best of what they are expecting from me because myself for a short step is one must go fast and be finished fast. No I think I understand what this is. It was a quotation from you. And I think what you implied was it's too much personality to be a professor in the sense I think. It was not in there. That's right because the other less than it is the LEAST one can see and he was really the only person that was active this time because you think that's even that's what people petition of his was leaving it was they were asked to be a part of it but that's the most conservative institution that you can imagine just to describe you part of the situation as it was but it's often how many when I was there and we asked some of his students. That's really a class of
composition because that was necessary and I mean you know you don't wait until 82 percent of composition. And then we had a petition signed. So we went there and we as that must have been. And will be first in the class so you know he was sure that you have at least 15 people which is an approximate amount of people in the competition and at this moment if you just do that. So we finally found a medium solution because we don't want to offend anybody. And he gave him a class on aesthetics and I don't remember what. Something very funny. And this class was facultative. Nobody was going to go there and you know the composition classes. So it was really a silly idea. But this silly idea was for practically 20 years because it was from 40 to 49 until
67 and now at the age of 16 as you know he's officially professor of composition which is comically stupid because he can give lessons he wants but if it was if he wasn't so in full stand I mean at 35. That's why the time to contact him as a composition professor but there is always people or so when the country is supposed to leave quiet quiet and to have just concentrate on their lives as one looks back over the history of the Paris Conservatory it seems all each age were the radicals you know. Just finally just couldn't tolerate. Also also I find also this especially in this time of international the exchanges hastiness. Four years ago I don't want to have classes X type classes which will become an
independent and with foreign professors which are engaged only for same and six months after my second semester. If you if you have a great year to us who have the most or only false statements that can be a lot a lot of good. Which is nothing. First by beginning slightly but not at all because we have enough good French. Well you continued your studies in a sense outside the conservatory. Yes the counterpoint. And well I was very happy because all the parties are really unsatisfying. I was in the class of counterpoint for half a year and just I did not go because it was so boring and so dead and so I had a mic that you cannot support. Yeah and I remember in this and also to give you
an anecdote and that I was just discovering in forty forty five discovering the music for things you remember the big first movement these few and we had the right some exercise at that point that's when I just made it kind of a parody of a copy of the music Fosse things. Somewhere I think I sort of seeing that sense and she told me butter is a very nice man but the light comes only from the old masters. What can you do as I understand you left the conservatory you did not graduate this graduate I mean how many you know how many you know because you left before I was. If you asked if I was expelled because I did not go any more to the classes and did not inform the members I think that was very good in this essay and I was ultimately expelled because after a while if you don't you receive your you have a warning that you receive a
letter and then I may be received from me thanking letter thanking him to dismiss me because I find instead of spending his time on dismissing students he must be. You must spend more time of protecting better offices in the most recent than you're still persona non grata. I have never seen that since you know just to pay for some visit. But I was never asked to take part in injuries I am banned for life. You're listening to our conversation with Pierre Boulez there and parsons and George Stone. We pons 10 seconds for a station identification.
Now resuming the conversation with Mr. Blair's here or there and Parsons and then I ask you when you began composing. When I was 17 18. But without any MITI and the after us I began to compose really fast work even when I was 21 and this was of course if you had been in Paris for some four five years. Yes yes. What was that which brought about the change in your attitude toward music composition. When did you encounter. Sure which was the yes I mean it's all very early I was very fortunate you know because during that time you know nothing was played but it was not about it not to speak of it which was to do it when and when not before. And. It was completely on my thinking. So we in forty forty forty five Yes
44. So the first preseason let's say 44 45 and everybody was so thirsty. That's all we want all the music we can get and it was hard difficult to find scores even though they were not painted. Only you could get that so some batiks calls and sometimes scores from London but took more time to have a school score so we copied the score so we make all the all tradition. We copied scores for ourselves you know because that was impossible to do by them and when somebody at the once a week up at this one and that was a very good training I must say because then you know very quickly as a sweater you know Xeroxing and then we. It's covered all that. We had to sew some classes with you all the scores
and that's what Michelle did not teach us because he was also aware of this development. And I gather that you felt that it was rather academic or very exactly like the point of a certain teacher on here with lots of and the other one was seven. But I mean that's very that was very useful anyway to get the scores at least. And even to have an indication of how to manipulate discourse and to analyze them even if that was very economical. That was the beginning. And after if you go see months this type of education and you can see by and by yourself. You know I can play a team that was not a gentle person but I think I compared him once and I think I am to this day as you are going into a plane you know you must have the stairs. But when the plane is
gone so the stairs look ridiculous simply I think that's exactly the fact these type of people is very necessary because they are very knowledgeable. But they have no imagination that's all. I mean I don't want that everybody has of imagination but I don't like and so somebody would teach us each to have you know like and so you make it to be equal see and that's for house because it's not interesting at all that this is the attitude you know in the teaching century harmony. It was just so. Yes exactly. Well I mean so then to come back to me had a very good system of teaching because that was a historical one. And therefore I could not support any more of the counterpoint class because that was really you must not do feet. You must not see more than three hours and I think you know
things are going to be I do. Which is nonsense because if you are if you are young and the country you are you are willing to break everything. I don't wonder who makes you also just like Chinese feet of Dimes while you want to squeeze your feet and after you cannot walk anymore particularly this system of education is it because the country teaching system was very good it was just progressive considering how many times and never was in contact with music which is mainly difficult because when you have these kind of particular exact size you could do so problems of algebra that would be more interesting. I think just doing that and you know he began for instance with the system of harmony and then we played a lot of money in the class and then he gave us phones as an exercise to do that. And after a progressive policy of US for instance you don't have to write an exact
science only vocal exercises but you can. You could you have been exercised about that by Mozart and said something like that and then going to Debussy and Ravel that was his last element of harmony. And we did a very interesting finding that this makes sense not only to say you must not feel you must avoid this direct octave and everything like that which is that's all just a Chinese school and so I mean you know this is also the way one should study music history. Exactly. Exactly I think that's the teaching must be lively first and not detached from the main musical text. Always called eating and I mean as a for instance with a counterpoint to the example of backtalk I gave you that for me that was very natural. You know I did a lot of counterpoint as an 18th century style as one does generally but never find sense in a counterpoint. You can go
only in four quarters signature so it makes you better. You never do it at a party in three quarter and during two years so this type of thing never never never because they're all in for four four and you never know a model quite often for instance in the 16th century of the 15th century. You never learn the order of the first counterpoint before this evolution and counterpoint which is a mixture anyway of harmonic style but the pure counterpoint of the 16th century of the 15th century not to go back to the beginning but I mean you must have that in the background. And one does not care at all in this company. Well just write according to rules which were fixed after about and we'll never move politically. So therefore for me I saw the point about us as necessary. But therefore I remember that this attitude is I think one that's shocked
me especially after the aspect that most you know and this family these conservatives and this know this well it just took me in my heart I've been sad and I was very against that and I remember they said it was the last one find very this quote attributed to you. Well there are many I'm going to I would assume however because of the number in this particular instance of that perhaps there is some basis in various contexts. You seem always to come back to the point that structure is of prime importance. Is this correct. Yes I think so that's all the structure of language the language of music is very important not only to compose but also form. I don't. That's maybe best but I don't think that's a great performance just improvising. I mean
the greatest performers were always deeply aware of the section of the direction the music and the sense of music of the efficiency of the vocabulary and all the goals of the compass I had in mind. Because of course you are not if you are in it I tell you you are not obliged to be a composer but I mean if you know composition then grasp of the work not only from the Extel your point of view but from the composition composer point of view and that's the main point of course. These type of difficulties. There are some as one say that's what we've seen yet a couple of my stats are collectors we will compensate that by doing the work a lot of times so I mean you know if you have work times then you are way out of the structure more or less because you have so many time so
intellectual analysis is supplied by a type of practical practical experience and I mean not in the highest sense but I mean intelligence and that isn't the spears you all this time which is necessary last because if you have such other music and other vocabulary and especially in a contemporary feel when you have to explain then not so I think if you make the work easier for everybody especially for instance in the pieces of a 6 which I think of texture and difficult for the form of the form is not so simple after all. And then if you give the musician approach to that's according to him and then I says you have made of the things much quicker and. It goes back also to economical problems. You lose much less time because they are let go and you are not just swimming together to an island. This of course ties in with the whole question of
rehearsal technique. I take it you believe before you begin making clear what it is. Yes but not with it never because I don't and I don't want to confuse the never. Composition class with us. Because you know as I said you must be practical and they have the experience you know I'm teaching. Not always but sometimes in Basle conducting of contemporary music. I did it in 65 I will do it. And. I was away. That's very good people who can analyze a score of all its potential it is. Well absolutely. And able to communicate with the system but they are so blocked and they begin to worse and worse and whether the musician was just listening or not listening you most of the time because after five seconds and seconds you know what I said. So either class especially
because that's very important I found pet antic aspect that you must exactly find the natural way of saying think that's more or less than the other instrument. You know these other one you are playing together. Now I want that you are a member of this base where we're playing. We come again and so later and I do please just one after another. So when he is playing the score after he will remember that he has at least two places and is to place a similar more or less transformation. So automatically if you do this type of thing you know Intel won't like that so you are sure that the people are aware of such other work. That's a way of finding a practical way to make them aware of the form of the work in the shape of the work. But without the bitter because I am against every form of pedantic teaching if you
want to. Perform the work you have to be very aware of the structure because I think that you can't do anything but you must also let a certain amount of freedom because otherwise the preference would be stiff and nothing happens or thought like to have the very solid but not too tenuous. I want to have willingly is fame kind of freedom of response to the individual just simply. And that's a performance that's exactly the point. When you have just the right balance to my opinion between this discipline and this freedom structure that would naturally lead to the expression which is certainly you know that's not for me to opposite sides of music you know generally when things start out in the form of consumption then you know the feeling. Have the two in his mind and if you don't realize this sanction this
dialectic junction of feeling and construction. Well then I saw you last and I found a bed that's very exciting to do because back is a very expressionistic musician and in the same time that's really constructed in the smallest detail because he's obsessively with detail and with I mean his senses and with all the static working is very very into Gate 1. But in the same time you have this big expressionistic gestures and that's very For me that's a typical example where you cannot ignore the entire structure and at the same time you must give a great deal of passion. This type of intellectual and nonintellectual is really difficult to realize. Definitely. I mean even in yourself one time you are a little bit too much on the intellectual side.
And evening after you say well I was too tight because I want that's everything. You know other. So the next evening you do the country to excess of just so you love some sloppiness and I think and that's after you or you have the right ones but that's very difficult to have exactly the right ones. How did how do you apply these same ideas to them. That's exactly the same. So that's even more difficult because of course this normal continuity. So I think for instance by collecting You must make sense with every small piece that each musician have to play you make them aware that's for instance this instrument is following this other one in spite of the distance you know you have Misha continuity. The most difficult thing to especially fond of assumptions and often to make them aware of the continuity of things because otherwise you have just one bar and
after another bar and absolutely nothing happens because these parts don't form a phrase and then you have any phrases and you have. Expressive face is only a different kind of expression and the musician has parts parts of a face and all face most of the time. So if you conduct me from one instrument to another one you have to be very careful with your gesture other to make also visually for the musician the way of 121 exactly they are feeling they are tied one to another and they have to continue think properly. When you said visually you just toured with your eyes. Yes which would be unknown to our audience. As you said visually you were leading with you were you as though you were looking for one musician as a mother. So maybe you have seen I am not very make no man much gestures myself and I come back mainly with looking at the musicians before and when the signal come with a hand just I sort of
say Well that's exactly what I want them all at the top before you know I'm connecting always ahead of time looking at them before and then the gesture is just safety and that's all that I time. That's a very economical interest because I I think always that the musician I'm not stupid and they don't need all this. Anyway they don't upset if you make too much. This is a part of the same idea where you do not use about home. No because I think you know according to a different type of music even in the most music I don't anything because my hand is really precise enough I guess. And I had never trouble with that because you know for me if I have a bout of it that's like my hand is cut. Really I have no expressive power and if this stiffness and more of I don't like the noise
because you know when you give a very incisive. So when you hear it having some sound from a private partnership. So that's like whipping a horse you know. You seem to be the classic example Mr. Paul was of the conductor doesn't consciously make an effort to become a conductor you simply were a conductor. Yes well that's because I am so self-taught I must say and I think you know please that you were thrown into conducting when you joined the theatre. Yes exactly. Soon after you left the conservatory. Yes my first experience was very successful and I say because you feel even the first time I connected 15 people together it was me like now if I would conduct people together so it was very easy and I was so uneasy.
Just as I did not know what to do to stop people out to begin to take a course at the you know I mean you know if you knew the conducting then I would never have got to fight. If you would go back to the theater. Why not. Yes I was in this house I was in charge of music and I must say that was very good because you know you have to cope with actors and catastrophes on the stage. So now something can happen. Anything can happen. Nothing can stop me because I have a very good reaction that I have never panicking and I think I saw that yet. So I have this experience in France if I would have been born in Germany I would have this type of experience you know up in a house. So many things can go on but
I was a pianist I could have trained singers and then after that you know the performances for the first time something like that's when you know you have been looking at it. If I would have been born in Germany certainly this type of experience I maybe I would have been sooner. But in France and I was not eager to conduct that. So when I think business came yes it did because when I found my own music we had not a lot of money for promoting this concept which we have devoted completely to country basic and which wasn't. It's only of gifts you know. People do that. So I was the cheapest conductor possible because I did nothing I said. Listening to the music and so I was obliged to make tea and I had very good people front of me but I'm the same age. Also not educated in contemporary music or performing so
well. Learning together how to do it and my first experience with being in Germany and also performing my own because I prepared the course and then I saw and told me ask me Can you connect the pieces. Well you know that's always a guess that's a yes or no. I said they would not ask me twice. So I take it and then I took the opportunity to go there. Well of course in the beginning was like going to see I was so secure with myself but that just and you find I just was conducted in one of your pieces in various festivals. Yes. What effect did he have on your conduct. Certainly that's the conduct I have the most up to say I never took lessons. I've never taken lessons and I told you but I mean having conduct as we have I think that's a that's
was very important to me and especially because from 59 I was living in Germany then I saw the important thing it did. I watched the source and therefore I wasn't so I have a how to. Because he was very clear with us also models for everything and was very well prepared and among all these actors he was very willing to do something fine since you asked there was a big difference in age and so I mean he was 60 I was 30. She asked. So what do you want Are you satisfied with that what can we do. The next time father he was a video of a devout and incredibly good to you especially when you had the specimens and I remember him from one of my. And we did not see each other for 10 days I don't think. And yes but they had all the
think by himself. And yes I was in a concert and he asked me to kind of drink in temple and to look at the school we see him also doing intel to be sure that he has done I think and he mentioned kind of how I got my pleasantly modest best of this is the way he did. Oh yes exactly. Oh he was already BEEN Oh exactly. When I compare my experience with some of the next time you know. Well supposed to collect the music. Well I must remember media is the only one that Mr. Blais we are no perilously close to your performance time at Orchestra Hall. There are a great many things yet to be discussed and if we may resume tomorrow we will go on with this conversation. Yes I do. Thank you Mr. Billings. This has been a conversation with Pierre Boulez conductor designate of the BBC Symphony Orchestra and founder of the demesne music concerts in
- A conversation with...
- Pierre Boulez, part one
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 70-SUPPL (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- APA: A conversation with...; Pierre Boulez, part one. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-5h7bwp2d