A Franco-German solution for Pierre Boulez’s estate?

A Franco-German solution for Pierre Boulez’s estate?


norman lebrecht

May 17, 2017

His Baden-Baden house has been on sale since the start of the year for 2.8 million Euros.

There have been no takers as yet.

Now local activists are trying to get the two national governments to buy the house and turn it into a model of progressive Franco-German cooperation.

Read here.


  • Olassus says:

    Oh, please. Absolutely not.

  • Nik says:

    So they want it as a place where artists can work on “avant-garde” projects in the spirit of Boulez.
    I’m just wondering, is there ever a cut-off point where a style that was considered “avant-garde” 60 years ago ceases to be “avant-garde” and becomes old hat?

    • John Borstlap says:

      When ‘avantgarde’ establishes itself as a norm, there are only two options: a) freeze it as it is; or b) keep transcending boundaries all the time. The problem with a) is that it becomes conventional and conformist: conservative; the problem with b) that you end up with the absolute nothingness:


      One cannot have one’s cake and eat it:

      “Being modern, we learn, is refusing the norm. OK. But what should we do when the modern has become the norm? When my teacher instructs me to be modern, explaining that being modern is disobeying one’s teachers, what should I do?”


      No wonder it appears to be difficult to find funding for an oldfashioned avantgarde museum. Best is to turn the villa into an old people’s home – provided that the four pots with the parameters have been removed.


      • Nik says:

        Same thing has happened in politics. The anti-establishment has become the establishment but refuses to acknowledge it, and anyone who refuses to toe the anti-establishment establishment line must be condemned for being insufficiently anti-establishment.

  • Alexander says:

    Franco-German cooperation still sounds weird for the most part of France . Just my opinion, of course.

    • John Borstlap says:

      There was a Franco-German cooperation with Guernica, some time ago, but that did not go down well in history.

  • John Borstlap says:

    “Käufer könnte der deutsche und französische Staat sein, um dieses Kleinod als europäisches Zukunftslabor für Vor- und Querdenker aus der Musik und angrenzenden Gebieten zu bespielen”. Future laboratory for progressive and deviating thinkers….. the irony will be that both the concepts of ‘progressiveness’ and ‘deviation’ will be very different, because they are entirely dependent upon context.

    • Meal says:

      Of course, progressiveness and deviation depend on the context. But, I do not think that there is anything wrong with the intention to support progressiveness and deviating thinkers. We could argue whether your music is progressive (I am not qualified enough for this kind of discussion). If tonality is coming back more and more in what we call classical contemporary music, tonality is progressive. More important, I assume that your comments in this blog, your statements are not mainstream. I also believe that most readers of this blog will share this opinion (which has nothing to do whether or not they share your opinions). Consequently, you could be called a “deviating thinker”. It might sound ironic but: If the aim of the facility is to promote deviating thinkers what would be the arguments not to include people like you (although you might reject any money or support which has something to do with Boulez)? At least to me it appears a necessity to include “tonal”, “neo-tonal” and “non-tonal” composers. Otherwise, they would fail to include deviating thinkers.
      I hope you do not feel my comment to be inappropriate but supportive.

      • John Borstlap says:

        It is entirely supportive indeed. Even, It seems to me that composers like me would be the best possible candidates to be installed in that property. (I would only accept if my wife, the kids, the refugees and Sally could come with me and if there would be room service). I would kick-out the 4 parameter pots, though. There have been performances of my music in the context of a modern music concert where my item provoked as much protests as an early atonal piece in pre-first-world-war Vienna Mozart programme, so: the world upside down.

  • Myrtar says:

    The local activists are the immediate family of the realtor. That’s the only explanation.

  • John Borstlap says:

    Interestingly, the house itself apparently is a typically traditional building, emanating a welcoming, humane character, so far removed from the modernist paradigm. In the same way, modernist star architects build modernist monstruosities, preferably in old, humane city quarters where they destroy the urban fabric, but live themselves in old, traditional houses. As well-known architect [redacted] says: ‘THIS is for living, but THAT is for my professional life’. So, where personal enjoyment is at stake, avantgarde ideals are quickly put aside. Comparably, communist elites in the Soviet Union enriched themselves abuntdantly, living a decadent bourgeois life style entirely in contradiction with their ‘professional ideals’ for society where the peope were scraping the bottom of the barrel, a balance still wholeheartedly cultivated in North Korea.

    • Jonathan Dunsby says:

      Yes, Stockhausen lived in a house with octagonal walls which he designed himself.

      • Pianofortissimo says:

        It seems that Stockhausen lived quite in his crazy worldview. Boulez lived in the real world – he conducted Bolero and Also sprach Zarathustra for a living.

        • John Borstlap says:

          He even conducted Szymanowski, without any idea where the music was ‘about’, but he played the notes, in itself quite courageous for such a conductor.

  • John Borstlap says:

    Thinking about it, it is a scandal that the works of this man are, occasionally, performed by established orchestras as if it were a normal part of the repertoire, as if PB was merely a regular member of the music establishment. Not only are his works not music, and written against the entire orchestral performance culture, but the product of one of the most poisonous influences in music life, a leninist (as he himself always said), causing damage to a precarious art form. His works should be banned for a couple of decades, like the books written by collaborators of an evil regime, a moratorium to clear the air.

    • Sarmad says:


      This is the second time in two days that I have encountered your toxic views. I’m genuinely offended, if not horrified, by your mentality and the ferocity with which you propound your ideology.

      Your views on the music of Boulez are laughable and do not deserve the small amount of effort it would take to repudiate them.