…stumbled upon this article in the Independent about Pierre Boulez the other day. In it, author Michael Church pokes a stick at known iconoclast and curmudgeon Boulez. As I read this article, I couldn’t help but ask myself, “Why does this article feel so…I dunno, icky…to me?”
I think the reason I felt this way is that it feels so forced. I mean, I get it. Divisive opinions make for tasty news, especially in an area so stereotypically dry as classical music. But seriously, Boulez (despite being an insanely good musician, composer, conductor) is 86. His world-beating remarks made a lot more historical sense in his 30’s. Nowadays, though, it feels a little bit more like an old man threatening to steal your baseball: don’t let Ol’ Man Boulez see you fetishizing the past in his yard, he’ll call the authorities!
I think that the problem with Modernist composers seem to have is that many have lived long enough to see their ideas become outdated. The existence of their ideas in the general post-postmodern cloud of ideas, references, and referenced ideas, makes them stand out as woefully anachronistic. Ironically, postmodernism seems to be fueled by woeful anachronism. Perhaps Boulez is now guilty of fetishizing the past, himself.