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Music Lessons

Pierre Boulez
Translated by Arnold Whittall

First publication in English of an extraordinary and prestigious series of Lectures given by Pierre Boulez, arguably the most influential composer of the second half of the last century.

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Pierre Boulez was appointed to the Collège de France in 1976, with the chair devoted to ‘Invention, technique and language in Music’, and he held his position until 1995. The publication of his extraordinary Collège de France lectures, his most significant writings from the 1970s to the 1990s, will make a major contribution to the discussion in English about Boulez’s aesthetic legacy. His goal in Leçons de musique is to express his conception of musical language, laid out over the course of nearly twenty years of lecturing. He is thinking about the possible paths musical thought could take, as well as the musical legacy of the past
In addition to composers, music historians, theorists, and music students, this book will be invaluable to those interested in the history and aesthetics of 20th century music, musical manifestations of artistic modernism, the history of ideas, and French intellectual and cultural history. Faber have been Pierre Boulez’s publisher since 1986 – previous books include Orientations, Boulez on Music Today and Boulez on Conducting.
‘Boulez’s achievements in changing every part of the fabric of classical musical culture all over the world are indelible.’ Tom Service, Guardian

Critic Reviews

In these lectures from 1976 to 1995, Boulez shows himself to be a philosopher as well as a composer and conductor. His laser-sharp analyses drill into profound issues about the study and composition of music — such as the conflict between creative process and historical research, or the impossibility of “authenticity”. Chewy, intensely rewarding, it leaves one marvelling at this penetrating, questing intellect.

Jessica Duchen, Sunday Times, Classical Music Books of the Year
Critic Reviews

Pierre Boulez, in Music Lessons, drawn from the lectures he gave at the College de France in his fifties and sixties, brings his theorizing to a stupendous culmination of over 600 pages. Engaged with music as construct and communication, the book is almost a (Boulez) composition itself, full of ideas coursing in spirals of elaboration.

Paul Griffiths, Times Literary Supplement, BOOKS OF THE YEAR

One of the most gifted and challenging composers of our time, Pierre Boulez (b. 1925) has achieved equal status as a conductor, notably of the BBC Symphony Orchestra and New York Philharmonic, and at Bayreuth. He is the founder and director of the world-renowned IRCAM Institute in Paris and of the associated Ensemble Intercontemporain.

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