Programme Guide

Pierre Boulez has set standards as a conductor of the music of Stravinsky. But his own works were also profoundly influenced by the elder composer, who for his part, had great respect for the first compositions of his younger colleague. The interrelationships between these two doyens of modern music are revealed in this concert from 2010 with Boulez conducting the Berliner Philharmoniker.

Boulez’s ... explosante fixe ... was composed as an homage to Stravinsky, following his death in April 1971. It was actually intended simply to mark out the framework for a free improvisation, but over the years, ... explosante fixe ... developed into a sophisticated composition, with electronic music playing an increasingly important role. As technology has advanced, this role has become ever more refined, culminating in this version from the 1990s. One solo flute is connected to a computer through a MIDI system, so that the electronics react almost spontaneously to the flute, played here by Emmanuel Pahud. 

Just like ... explosante fixe ..., Stravinsky’s opera Le Rossignol also had a long development process. The first act of this operatic version of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale still belongs to the musical world of Rimsky-Korsakov and Debussy. Stravinsky then set the manuscript aside in order to discover his own revolutionary musical language in the ballets The Firebird and Le Sacre du printemps, which ultimately influenced the last two acts of Le Rossignol. Pierre Boulez was totally fascinated by this new idiom when he first heard a radio broadcast of the opera in 1942 – his first encounter with the works of Stravinsky and the beginning of a lifelong admiration.

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