Boulez gets the giggles

Boulez gets the giggles


norman lebrecht

June 01, 2021

It happens when you’re hands on with Ligeti.

Remember when new music was fun?


  • John Borstlap says:

    Such ‘new music’ was never ‘fun’.

    • Novagerio says:

      Yes it was. Ever noticed the audience in the clip? It was Ligeti’s dadaistic period. Absurdism you know. A decade later he wrote a grand opera in the same vein.

      • John Borstlap says:

        Yes, and it is not ‘fun’. It is embarrassing, especially where the audience thinks it is fun. Dada was never fun because it was presented as art. It was juvenile rebellion during and after WW I, because of disgust about ‘civilization’ – as if art had a hand in wars and social destruction. The dadaists had, like the futurists – their collegues – no artistic talents. In short: dada was stupid. It does not contribute anything to whatever at all.

        And such ‘movements’ merely opened the gates to the untalented nitwits who think it will now be THEIR turn at the trough.

        • Wondering says:

          Why does it pain you so that some people enjoy things you don’t?

          • John Borstlap says:

            It does not ‘pain’ me, I merely clarify a truth about the matter.

            This attitude of anything goes, as long as people have fun, does not belong in the arts, but outside of it: entertainment, the children’s playground, the brothel, the café, the Commons, pop concerts, holiday resorts, sports, eurovision song festival, the circus, olympics, mounteneering, etc. Because – don’t forget! – that so-called ‘fun’ is presented as art, and is paid for by the community (in Europe at least) because of being a common good.

            So sorry to have to give you some adult information….

          • The truth says:

            Uh-oh… The truth patrol…

          • Wondering says:

            “So sorry to have to give you some adult information…”

            Really? Could you possibly show more contempt and scorn for other people’s views?

            “Fun” is a single facet of enjoyment; there are many more. Using “truths” where “opinion” is more appropriate, and defending it with terms like “embarrassing”, “stupid”, and “nitwits” does little to advance your argument.

          • John Borstlap says:

            Maybe you should view the video again.

            It’s not about two equally valid opinions, but between stupidity and common sense. This is what you get when relativism blurs perception.

          • Stuart says:

            It’s not about two equally valid opinions: The new world of tolerance…Yours is not common sense so it must be that other thing…

        • Novagerio says:

          “It was never fun because it was presented as art. It was juvenile rebellion during and after WW I, because of disgust about civilization ”

          Yes indeed !! And so was in so many ways Brueghel, Bosch, Büchner, Rimbaud, Marcel Duchamp, Alfred Jarry, Francis Picabia, Erik Satie, Arthur Cravan, Max Ernst, Kurt Schwitters, André Breton, Tristan Tzara, Samuel Beckett, Eugène Ionesco, Harold Pinter! Hell, you can even throw Bod Dylan in there for good measure!
          It was a radical break with traditional and classic models by expressing “nonsense”, irrationality, and anti-bourgeois protest with a spirit of rebellion.
          Have you ever even seen Bosch’s “The ship of fools”? Or the Popes and cardinals cooking in a cauldron, while pure naked young lovers are having sex inside a glass ball?
          Cos that was also “big time irrational nonsense”, according to pontificators like you 500 years ago (!)

          You don’t have to love it to accept it as part of free expression!
          Do you even hear/read how historyless you appear when you write your daily anti-avantgarde pompous presumptuous and pontificating arrogance?

          Besides, Ligeti had many periods and styles of expression! Lontano, Atmosphères, the Cello Concerto, Concerto Romanesque, Hamburg Concerto, Lux Aeterna, Requiem, and a long etc. And by the way, Le grand Macabre is a thrilling show, and Ligeti is one of the most personal composers, with a completely own tonal and formal dna that is as easily regonizable as Stravinsky and Bartók!

          • John Borstlap says:

            Yes, that stuff is meant for people like you… having no clue and enjoying ‘liberation’ from content. Your list of artists reveals clearly the absence of context. Understanding often comes with reading. Keep trying!

          • Novagerio says:

            “Your list of artists reveals clearly the absence of context. Understanding often comes with reading. Keep trying!”

            Oh, I read Mr.Bitch-slap, I read, don’t yee worry! My point is putting forward are variety of provocateurs who would be condemned precisely by pharisees like you.

            I repeat, you don’t have to like it. Besides, you have no clue about what “kind of stuff is for me or not”, and you don’t need to.

          • John Borstlap says:

            That’s what I have to confront on a daily basis. Who’s asking for such information?! It’s elitism and wanting to put down simple minds like me while I’m working my tail off to get everything done without all that nonsense.


    • probably just an imbecile :'( says:

      I find Ligeti funny, but I’m probably just an imbecile.

      • John Borstlap says:

        “Knowing thyself is the beginning of a life-long road of stumbling”, To-Fu, 9th century China.

        • Definitely an imbecile :D says:

          Thank you.
          My doubt is now dispersed.
          I’m not worthy 🙁
          Thank you, thank you.

          • John Borstlap says:

            To-Fu had great trouble with keeping to his own advices, got into prison at three occasions because of street fights and drug abuse, committed bigamy and origami, and on one occasion exercised his flatulent ailments at the imperial court upon which he bas banned to the island that is now Hong Kong. But his ‘Twelve Ways to achieve the Way of Heaven’ remains worth reading.

      • Pianofortissimo says:



    • Nightowl says:

      I almost thought this was a deleted scene from Clockwork Orange and not something at all related to “music”…(No disrespect to Clockwork Orange)

      I’d prefer to have a nightmare than to watch this 30 second clip…(No disrespect to nightmares..)

  • Concertgebouw79 says:

    On this photo from the 60’s I suppose Boulez looks like a young Haitink ahahah

  • Marfisa says:

    One cellist didn’t think it funny. But the horn player did!

  • opilec says:

    A fine job there from Terence Emery…

  • I recall my mother coming home from concerts and saying, “Sometimes you feel like they’re just pulling your leg.”

    That recurring experience did a lot of damage.

  • Richard Zencker says:

    Is this one of the NY Phil’s “rug” concerts?

    • Rustier spoon says:

      BBC Symphony Orchestra…

    • microview says:

      I well remember that Camden Roundhouse concert (before it became tarted up). Boulez engaged in discussion with audience members – someone made a stupid comment and got the tart reply ‘You are very rude’.

  • Max Raimi says:

    We recorded “Bluebeard’s Castle” with the Chicago Symphony and Boulez 25 or 30 years ago, featuring an extraordinary Jessye Norman as Judith. To punctuate Bluebeard and Judith’s progress from room to room, Boulez had the horns blow through their instruments, to sound like the air moving as the doors opened and closed in the claustrophobic castle.
    At one point, one of our horns accidentally buzzed his lip very slightly, creating a sound that was unmistakably akin to flatulence. Boulez said “Oh my God–which of Bluebeard’s wives was that?” And then he just lost it, laughing uncontrollably, as was most of the orchestra. He had to call a break to pull himself back together.