Luis de Pablo – Chamber Concerto (1979)

Luis de Pablo (born 28 January 1930) is a Spanish composer born in Bilbao, but after losing his father in the Spanish Civil War, he went with his mother and siblings to live in Madrid from age six. Although he started to compose at the age of 12, his circumstances made it impossible to consider an artistic career, and so he studied law at the Universidad Complutense. For a short time after graduating in 1952, he was employed as legal advisor to Iberia Airlines, but soon resigned this post in order to pursue a career in music. Although he received composition lessons from Maurice Ohana and Max Deutsch, he was essentially an autodidact in composition. His participation at the Darmstadt courses in 1959 led to the performance of some of his works under Pierre Boulez and Bruno Maderna (Heine 2001). He was awarded Spain’s Premio Nacional de Música for composition in 1991. In Spain, he founded several organizations: Nueva Música, Tiempo y Música, and Alea and organized several contemporary music concert series, for example, the Forum Musical and Bienal de Música Contemporánea de Madrid. He was particularly concerned with promoting understanding in Spain of the Second Viennese School, publishing translations of Stuckenschmidt’s biography of Arnold Schoenberg in 1961, and the writings of Anton Webern in 1963 (Heine 2001). He is much in demand as a teacher, both in Spain and internationally.




LuisdePablo

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Pierre Boulez – Sur Incises (1996)

The Layout of “Sur Incises” by Pierre Boulez. The piece will be performed on 6 October in Venice (as part of the Biennale) under Susanna Mälkki. Furthermore, Pierre Boulez will receive the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the Biennale.







Alban Berg – Lulu (1937)

She seduces, she kills, she winds up a prostitute and gets murdered by Jack the Ripper. Greed-filled, lusty Lulu is the 20th century’s greatest opera.

I was 14 and in hospital with an appendicitis that had turned into peritonitis. The BBC was broadcasting a piece of opera history – the first ever performance of Alban Berg’s Lulu in its entirety. It was 24 February 1979, and I watched as much as I could. Even though I was feeling terribly ill, the opera made an unforgettable impact on me. Some youthful enthusiasms diminish over time. Lulu never has. It has grown richer and stranger over the years.

The premiere took place at the Opéra Garnier in Paris, and the BBC put it out on prime-time TV; things have certainly changed in the last 30 years. What strikes everyone, on first viewing, is the apparently tawdry quality of Lulu’s subject matter compared with the sumptuous beauty of the score. Lulu is a woman of limitless sexual allure, who takes one man after another, rising in the social scale while killing them or driving them to suicide in turn. She is arrested for the murder of one husband, Doctor Schön, and so begins her descent. By the end, she is prostituting herself in a London garret; her last client is Jack the Ripper, who murders her and her lesbian lover, Countess Geschwitz.

Thirty years on, Berg’s opera seems an indisputable candidate for the greatest opera of the 20th century. But that 1979 performance of the three-act Lulu came 44 years after Berg died, apparently from blood poisoning caused by an insect bite. After the composer’s death, the work was regarded as a decadent oddity – perverse, bizarre and, most importantly, unfinished. The long delay in the work being given a proper performance was a catastrophe for 20th-century music. [Source]



Read the German reviews of the performace at the Berliner Festtage 2012 here, here and here.

There are still tickets for the last three of five performances in Berlin here.

The Met Orchestra conducted by Pierre Boulez

The list of significant conductors who have never appeared at the Metropolitan Opera grew shorter during the past two seasons with the acclaimed house debuts of Daniel Barenboim, Riccardo Muti and Esa-Pekka Salonen. One notable maestro, Pierre Boulez, remains on that list, and at 85 he is not likely to commit to a Met production, which would involve several weeks of residency.

But Mr. Boulez was at least enticed to conduct the Met Orchestra, and that long-awaited concert took place on Sunday afternoon at Carnegie Hall. The program — Bartok’s mysterious ballet score “The Wooden Prince” and Schoenberg’s operatic monodrama “Erwartung” — was tailored to Mr. Boulez’s expertise and interests. The concert was a triumph. I lost track of the number of times Mr. Boulez and Deborah Polaski, the compelling soprano soloist in the Schoenberg, were brought back to the stage during the long final ovation.

With his acute ear for color and texture, Mr. Boulez can usually elicit a certain sound from whatever orchestra he conducts, especially with musicians as skilled and responsive as these. In Bartok’s “Wooden Prince,” written in 1917, the orchestra played with warmth and radiance yet uncanny clarity, a Boulez hallmark.

Read the full review in The New York Times here.

The Darmstadt school's British invasion

In many ways, Darmstadt is a typical German city. It has a local beer, an opera house, parks and museums and an efficient tram network, and one night in September 1944 it was devastated by an Allied bombing raid. When people emerged from the shelters, they discovered a city in which four out of every five buildings was ruined. A year later, with the second world war over, reconstruction began. The fabric of the city was slowly restored – buildings, jobs, a political structure – and in the process, more or less by accident, something remarkable happened.

Casting around for ways to regenerate cultural life in the city, its new mayor, Ludwig Metzger, was persuaded by a local musicologist, Wolfgang Steinecke, to consider the possibility of establishing an institute for contemporary music. Because Darmstadt was in the American- controlled zone of occupied Germany, Metzger and Steinecke needed the approval of the American forces to develop their ideas and by happy coincidence the officer in charge of such initiatives was a former Harvard University music student, Everett Helms. The permissions were granted, and in the summer of 1946, American army trucks delivered grand pianos to a hunting lodge on the outskirts of Darmstadt, the temporary home for the first “courses for international new music”.

The courses were initially intended to denazify German musicians by introducing them to the modern music of the 1930s and 40s, music by Bartók, Hindemith, Schoenberg, Stravinsky, all of which had been outlawed as “degenerate” under Hitler. But soon new music by the next generation of composers became part of the courses too and by the early 1950s, the summer school, now subtly redesignated as the “international courses for new music”, was acquiring a reputation as the meeting place for aspiring avantgardistes not only from Germany but across Europe and beyond.

Read the full article in The Guardian here.

Pierre Boulez’s Gentler Roar

LUCERNE, Switzerland

IN a maroon turtleneck and loose-fitting gray suit, eyes on his score, Pierre Boulez took turns one late August morning here rehearsing the soloists for “Répons.” Written in 1981 for six soloists, chamber orchestra and live electronics, it is the first major work he wrote using the electronic-music institute in Paris, Ircam. But it has rarely been performed, just a few dozen times.

Now Mr. Boulez had young musicians from the Lucerne Festival Academy on hand. Intimations of jazz, Balinese gamelan, African drumming and Japanese music floated from welters of rapid passagework. “You are freer there, so to speak,” he reminded the harpist where the score mandated improvisation.

“No, no, no, no,” he gently chided one of the pianists, adding, consolingly, “It’s difficult also for the conductor, believe me.”

It sounded nearly impossible, not least when the six soloists finally played together before the rehearsal broke. Intense complexity created waves of impenetrable sound.

And yet.

Read the full interview in The New York Times here.