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Orientations: Collected Writings Hardcover – November 5, 1986

4.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Boulez is one of the most controversial and enigmatic personalities on the contemporary music scene. He is also a wonderfully intelligent writer, as this important collection of essays amply demonstrates. The book is divided into three parts. "The Shaping Imagination" deals with questions of aesthetics and includes cogent analyses of some of Boulez's own music. "Exemplars" contains short sketches on composers and their music that Boulez finds worthwhilefrom Berlioz's Symphony Fantastique to the works of Messiaen. The short third section, "Looking Back," contains tributes and brief essays of a more general nature. Though much of the writing is technical, the lay reader will still derive great pleasure from Boulez's lucid prose and articulate sentiments. Highly recommended. Larry Lipkis, Music Dept., Moravian Coll., Bethlehem, Pa.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

Collected here, in some 500 pages, is perhaps the most comprehensive and provocative statement of an aesthetic position mustered by a musician since Schoenberg. (New Statesman)

Boulez is one of the most controversial and enigmatic personalities on the contemporary music scene. He is also a wonderfully intelligent writer, as this important collection of essays amply demonstrates. The book is divided into three parts. 'The Shaping Imagination' deals with questions of aesthetics and includes cogent analyses of some of Boulez's own music. 'Exemplars' contains short sketches on composers and their music that Boulez finds worthwhile―from Berlioz's Symphony Fantastique to the works of Messiaen. The short third section, 'Looking Back,' contains tributes and brief essays of a more general nature. Though much of the writing is technical, the lay reader will still derive great pleasure from Boulez's lucid prose and articulate sentiments. Highly recommended. (Larry Lipkis, Moravian College Library Journal)

Boulez is (arguably) the laureate of post-war European contemporary music, and his public utterances are part of the permanent record of this era. Orientations...is thus de facto an indispensable text. Moreover, the organization of the volume carefully and admirably disentangles the various strands of Boulez's exemplary career. (College Music Symposium) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; First U.S. Edition edition (November 5, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674643755
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674643758
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,679,821 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
For anyone even remotely interested in the world of contemporary music and the volcanic changes that Pierre Boulez spearheaded in that conservative world from the 50's to the present, this is the essential book--a manifesto outlining the hopes, ideals, problems and successes that we face in the modern musical world. Every subject is covered here; from extensive essays and polemics to recording sleeve notes to interviews and tributes to musical colleagues and friends, Boulez leaves no subject untouched. What may seem at first dry and forbidding turns out to be, upon powerful and deep immersion, an inspiring and even moving text and 'calling' for the modern musician.
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Format: Paperback
Orientations provides unique and fascinating insight into the ideas of Pierre Boulez over 4 decades. With the recent release of Repons on Deutsche Grammophon, listeners will be delighted to examine the thought behind the highly beautiful, shimmering sound of his recent works. We learn here that Boulez has set out to break down the barrier between the composer and the audience, a crusade which he continues to fulfill in a characteristically exemplary manner. It is particularly interesting to observe the persistance of particular problems and solutions in the composer's work (such as spatialisation, the setting of texts, the integration of technology), and to bear in mind how these ideas have developed, from works such as Poesie pour pouvoir, to the 1993 version of explosante-fixe.
A sort of modernist bible, Orientations deserves to be re-printed. Indeed, it is to be hoped that the composer will produce a new volume in the near future which will include discussion of Repons, explosante/fixe, and Sur incise, and perhaps take stock of the whole gamut of postmodernism, the minimalists and the like.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I cannot add much to the other reviews, this is the full weight of Boulez from both worlds as conductor and creator of theory and music. Boulez always found inroads into the theory of his works, like the indeterminate, aleatoric Third Piano Sonata which includes an analysis here, great reading from tis documentary value. Also reflections on Debussy's Jeux, a seminal work for the post-war generation of composers, the epiphanic, the slow introduction of materials and their appraisal. The problem is that Boulez writes quite tersivily, in short bursts, much like the sonic poet he is. Also the work on Wagner's Ring is discussed quite well, the approach to faster tempi, and Wagner's free form almost leitmotiv, where these musical ideas float through. There is also much on administration, on creating IRCAM, and reflections on where Booulez came from, profiles of Desormiere,Hans Rosbaud, Hermann Scherchen. Boulez would frequent their rehearsals, a hands-on non credit education.
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