The work explores many of the different aspects of musical composition and thought, from the mixture of tempo extremes in the first movement to the toccata in number 6 and groups of ostinato spread throughout. The work for piano is created by twelve miniatures, or movements, for piano, leaving the entire duration of the work at around ten to eleven minutes. Boulez himself must have thought the music in Notations for piano was substantial, even in its small scale. Movements five and nine were later used as interludes in the first Improvisation sur Mallarme.
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Daniel Barenboim on the genesis and creation of the Notations pour orchestre. Interview with Wolfgang Schaufler Universal Edition. Go to the complete interview. Established at the request of the then French President Georges Pompidou, it opened its doors near the Centre Pompidou in , after years of preparation, and was personally headed by Boulez until IRCAM is a novel institution in which composers, scientists, engineers and computer programmers work together on transdisciplinary projects.
Its original structure and research programme reflected the creative interests of its founder. Boulez was also keenly interested in the acoustic properties of instrumental sounds — a field that influenced the way he handled the large orchestra in his later version of Notations. It was in this context, in , that he lit on the idea of returning to his early work, still lying in his filing cabinet. He started to produce a second orchestral arrangement on days when he did not have to conduct or rehearse.
But then I noticed that more was needed, since the pieces were far too short for a large orchestral apparatus. After all, there is, more or less, a relation between the length of a piece and the size of the orchestra.
So I had to treat these ideas as raw material. On the one hand there was a great distance from the ideas, which lay far back in time; yet on the other hand the ideas were, for me, full of possibilities that I had entirely overlooked in They were early pieces viewed through the looking glass of today.
The ideas stated there in rough outline function like germ cells, unfolding in the light of possibilities raised by the medium of the orchestra. The proliferation, expansion and multiplication of the basic material are so far-reaching that the connections between the piano pieces and their orchestral counterparts often become evident only after deeper study.
And as recently as summer , the composer, now 87 years old, confided that he was working on an orchestral version of Notation 8. It is practically the same book, but with enormous differences. I work in a similar vein; my work consists of spirals. That fascinates me. We view exhibitions there differently than in a normal museum because we see the future, the present and the past all at once.
I find that a very interesting perspective. Musical metamorphoses.
A guide to Pierre Boulez's music
License for scenic performances incl. They are also sonic witnesses to their times. They originated as piano pieces in when Boulez was just 20 years old. Between thirty and fifty years later Boulez rewrote them as orchestral works. Starting from the existing piano versions, Boulez created entirely new works that are much more than just orchestrations. The orchestral score offers a third dimension of depths and layers to the vertical and horizontal structures of the original; one listens from within.
The family prospered, moving in from the apartment above a pharmacy, where Boulez was born, to a comfortable detached house, where he spent most of his childhood. By the age of eighteen he had repudiated Catholicism  although later in life he described himself as an agnostic. His father hoped this would lead to a career in engineering. The selection board rejected him but Boulez was determined to pursue a career in music. He greatly enjoyed working with her and she remembered him as an exceptional student, using his exercises as models in advanced counterpoint until the end of her teaching career. Its strict use of twelve-tone technique was a revelation to him and he organised a group of fellow students to take private lessons with Leibowitz.