View Poll Results: Who do you prefer?

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  • Boulez

    12 28.57%
  • Webern

    19 45.24%
  • I like both equally

    10 23.81%
  • I like neither

    1 2.38%
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Thread: Boulez vs. Webern

  1. #1
    Senior Member Dim7's Avatar
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    Default Boulez vs. Webern

    I don't think I really "get" either but on a superficial level I prefer Boulez. I like the "vibe" some of his pieces have but the austere minimalism of Webern on the other hand....
    ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

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  3. #2
    Senior Member SeptimalTritone's Avatar
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    Webern has a shower of short, similar motives just like Beethoven does. Of course, their music is quite different but Webern is very far from austere minimalism. It is very much "unity in variety" and nowhere repeating, although glued together by motivic intervallic pattern so that a given piece "sounds the same the way through" and is distinct from others.

    Try the Concerto for Nine Instruments https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FkT-3Yh22PE
    or Variations for Orchestra https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fdi1gNXJJw
    or the String Quartet https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQmXU-XMCIs

    Just trying to help.

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  5. #3
    Senior Member clavichorder's Avatar
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    This is silly perhaps, but I have a greater estimation of Webern's 12 tone music that I don't understand than Boulez's, because Webern proved himself highly capable of writing extremely late romantic music of exceptional quality and pre 12 tone works of "free atonality" as well that I really enjoy. Therefore, though I have not yet been able to warm up to Symphony Op 21, for example, I suspect I have a greater chance of getting it than the.mature works of Boulez in the near future.
    Last edited by clavichorder; Feb-19-2016 at 15:28.

  6. #4
    Senior Member Richannes Wrahms's Avatar
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    Boulez has that thing Schoenberg also had for dense saturated textures that some times is awesome but other times doesn't let the music breathe, often earlier versions of his pieces are more clear.

    Meanwhile I would commit the Rite of Spring or even a good chunk of Boulez to the fire if that saved just Weben's 6 Pieces for Large Orchestra, Op.6 from it.
    Last edited by Richannes Wrahms; Feb-19-2016 at 17:45. Reason: satiturated

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    Quote Originally Posted by clavichorder View Post
    This is silly perhaps, but I have a greater estimation of Webern's 12 tone music that I don't understand than Boulez's, because Webern proved himself highly capable of writing extremely late romantic music of exceptional quality and pre 12 tone works of "free atonality" as well that I really enjoy. Therefore, though I have not yet been able to warm up to Symphony Op 21, for example, I suspect I have a greater chance of getting it than the.mature works of Boulez in the near future.
    Boulez likewise proved himself highly capable of writing Neoclassical music of exceptional quality. He just covered up the evidence pretty well.

    Presumably, somebody will eventually get around to recording the unrevised versions of all his early works. For now, we have the recording of the premier of the "second version" of Le soleil des eaux conducted by Desormière:

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DWRS0PK..._ws_tlw_trk134
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00DWRS1PE?ie=UTF8

    Also, given that 20 years elapsed after the publication of Le marteau sans maître in 1957 (first recording released in the previous year) before anybody was able to figure out how it had anything to do with serialism, Boulez's work from that point on is maybe more usefully understood as effectively free atonal.

  8. #6
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    For me, my way into appreciating Boulez was first to hear and assimilate Webern.
    Last edited by Poppy Popsicle; Feb-19-2016 at 19:02.

  9. #7
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    Webern isn't austere, he's just short. Many performers make him sound austere, largely because of the example set by Boulez. (Like the kind of Handel performances preserved in Thomas Beecham's 1951 recording of Messiah, it may even sound good, but it's still an imposition on the composer.) Greg Sandow recently had a good rant about this: http://www.artsjournal.com/sandow/20...of-boulez.html

    (I would add that if you really want to hear how Webern should be played, the best indicator is maybe the recording of Berg's violin concerto with Webern conducting:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTYAm0BXkxs
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gKO-GKUgDXw)

    -----

    I would say that comparing Webern and Boulez - except to contrast them - confuses more than it clarifies. Boulez's most important influence is probably Messiaen. To put it another way, Boulez descends primarily from French Symbolism ("Impressionism"), while Webern is a German late Romantic, turned Expressionist, turned 12 tone Neoclassicist.

    And I'm not sure Webern was all that important of an influence on anybody. He's a very convenient composer to claim as an influence: He works on such a small scale that you can fairly plausibly read whatever you want into him, and there's little chance of him doing anything that might embarrass you (20 years before Boulez, Adorno was already saying that Webern "is the only one to propound musical expressionism in its strictest sense").

    Anyway, Webern is great, Boulez is better.
    Last edited by Harold in Columbia; Feb-19-2016 at 18:58.

  10. #8
    Senior Member isorhythm's Avatar
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    Webern's biggest influence on successors was in area of tone color.

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    So Boulez said. I think what he really meant may have been mostly, even if not entirely, "Pay no attention to the Olivier behind the curtain."

  12. #10
    Senior Member isorhythm's Avatar
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    I actually didn't know Boulez said that. I just think it's pretty obviously true, and I'm sure I've come across other people who've said it (can't remember who at the moment).

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    I was referring to the "perhaps, like that certain Webern, one could pursue the sound-EVIDENCE" passage in "Schönberg Is Dead."

    Anyway, Boulez's word aside, yes, Webern uses tone color as a "structural" element (that word has become as much of a bane on music today as "form" was in the late 19th century, but let's just go with it for the moment), but so did Debussy, and again, Boulez's way of doing so sounds to me more like an extension of Messiaen than of Webern.

  14. #12
    Senior Member Weston's Avatar
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    I chose Boulez simply because Webern is a little hard to find for me. There's a ginormous box set I'm reluctant to invest in, but other than that Webern is a bit scattered. He remains a mystery to me.

    I like Boulez' handy use of unconventional ensembles, often using xylophone or other plinky-plunk Zappa-esque instruments.
    Last edited by Weston; Feb-19-2016 at 20:21.

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    I probably prefer Webern over Boulez.

  16. #14
    Senior Member norman bates's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold in Columbia View Post
    Webern isn't austere, he's just short.
    only on this forum
    "Hey guys, let's make a party, let's play the first Cantata!"
    Seriously, I'm not sure I can think of another composer as austere as him.
    Last edited by norman bates; Feb-20-2016 at 01:50.
    What time is the next swan?

  17. #15
    Senior Member norman bates's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold in Columbia View Post
    And I'm not sure Webern was all that important of an influence on anybody. He's a very convenient composer to claim as an influence: He works on such a small scale that you can fairly plausibly read whatever you want into him, and there's little chance of him doing anything that might embarrass you (20 years before Boulez, Adorno was already saying that Webern "is the only one to propound musical expressionism in its strictest sense").
    about this, I don't think his influence has to be searched in the lenght of his pieces, that would be a bit superficial; I think it's his rhythmic sense, and his detachment that was influential on other composers (from Takemitsu to Barbara Pentland).
    And I confess that I find his music, and especially his late music the opposite of what is considered expressionism usually, from painting to architecture to other musical genres. Expressionism was pure viscerality, expression of despair, wild emotion, Munch, Van Gogh, Chaim Soutine, Murnau, Robert Wiene, Hans Poelzig, Albert Ayler, The velvet underground... basically the absolute opposite of the late works of Webern.

    this is expressionism:
    meidner.jpg
    Last edited by norman bates; Feb-20-2016 at 02:13.
    What time is the next swan?

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