Music lessons : the Collège de France lectures /

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Chicago, IL : The University of Chicago Press,, United States, p.xxvi, 662 pages ; (2019)

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(OCoLC)fst00871761, (OCoLC)fst00882393, (OCoLC)fst01030408, Composition (Music), Creation (Literary, artistic, etc.), fast, Music, Philosophy and aesthetics.


Includes bibliographical references and index.Music Lessons marks the first publication in English of Pierre Boulez's groundbreaking Collège de France lectures, written while he held the chair of Invention, Technique and Language in Music at the Collège between 1976 and 1995. Representing Boulez's most significant writings from the period, the lectures offer a sustained intellectual engagement with one of the dominant figures of twentieth-century music, a consummate composer-conductor who remained central to the conversation around contemporary music until his death in 2016. These writings served as the basis for the wide-ranging and extemporaneous talks Boulez delivered at the Collège. Collected here, the lectures read as freestanding prose essays, tracing nearly twenty years of Boulez's evolving ideas on creativity in music and the nature of musical language. Boulez explores, among other topics, the process of transforming a musical idea into a full-fledged composition, the complementary roles of craft and inspiration, and the degree to which memory and past musical legacies can influence and change the act of creation. Boulez also gives a penetrating account of long-standing problems in the world of classical music, such as the conservatism of a musical community fixated on the repertory of the past. Woven into the writings are discussions of Boulez's own compositions and those of composers whose work he engaged with in his many roles as teacher, thinker and conductor: from Stravinsky to Stockhausen and Varèse, from Bartók to Berg, Debussy to Mahler and Wagner, and all the way back to his beloved J. S. Bach. Including a foreword by semiologist Jean-Jacques Nattiez, who was for years close to the composer, this edition is also enriched by an illuminating preface by Jonathan Goldman. With an authoritative translation retaining Boulez's fierce convictions, cutting opinions and signature wit, Music Lessons is an essential and entertaining volume.