sur Pierre Boulez

En 2016, le festival Musiques Démesurées me demande quelques mots sur Pierre Boulez. Les voici, reproduits non altérés.

J'ai rencontré Boulez en 1995 à l'occasion de la création d'une de mes premières œuvres au Théâtre des Champs Elysées. Il était alors le petit homme affable et prestigieux, pour moi compositeur de Dérive 1, et de Explosante-Fixe, qui se prêtait de bonne grâce et avec générosité aux rencontres et au soutien de jeunes compositeurs. Ce n'est que plus tard que j'ai compris qu'il était aussi l'artisan puissant d'outils façonnés sur ses besoins : l'Ircam et l'EIC. Son héritage (je passe sur sa carrière de chef, négligeable à l'exception de son engagement pour les compositeurs vivants) pouvait se mesurer dès les années 80 : une extrême exigence dans la réalisation d'œuvres soignées, héritières de l'élan des pionniers que sont Webern, Debussy. Mais aussi le gardien d'un classicisme de plus en plus rigide, où les règles du jeu (compositeur tout puissant, interprète exécutant, chef démiurge, partition iconique, européanocentrisme) ne sont pas à remettre en cause, à peine variées depuis 100 ans. Même si les contours de ses œuvres sont effectivement légèrement floutés (par effet de dissémination d'une pièce à l'autre, par les versions successives qui fonctionnent en palimpseste), même s'il a poussé le rapport de l'instrument à l'électronique en temps réel, le Boulez de la maturité apparait comme très en deçà des révolutions qu'il appelait de ses vœux dans les années 50. Ni l'opéra ni la danse, à peine la musique vocale, et finalement assez peu les questions touchant la forme du concert, la théatralité, le monde foisonnant de la diffusion du son (spatialisation, multidiffusion, etc.) ont été approfondis par Boulez, contrairement par exemple à Stockhausen, ou John Cage. Ce qui, avec le temps, tend à réduire son oeuvre à des bijoux, certes scintillants, d'un luxe versaillais, mais de petites dimensions, dont le rayonnement est intense, mais bref.

SITUATIONS general notes and gestures

Francois Sarhan
general notes

The series of Situations are made for any musical performer, with minimal or non existent props, for a closed space.
Although it seems that the score leaves a lot of freedom, i strongly recommend to stick on the score and not to add, invent or adapt gestures, mimics, grimaces, etc.
The more sober the better.

The Situations use a set of gestures numbered from 0 to 20, which are described below.
In case a specific Situation uses other gestures, a note is inserted in the score.
The left or right gesture is generally not indicated, and is the choice of the performer. However if it is indicated, this indication is to be carefully followed.

The hands are to be between the belt and the shoulders in height, except for 18 and 19 whoch can be slightly higher.

0 : neutral, relaxed position, whatever comes before or after.

1 : as if to start talking, hand towards the audience, palm open towards ceiling.

2 : hand vertical, palm facing the audience, "stop", "no"
2bis : shake the index “no no no”

3 : palm towards the floor, drop the arms towards 0

4 : index up "listen", "but".

5 : index and thumb on the chin, thoughtful, doubtful.
"rub" in this case means a small action of the fingers against the skin,
keeping the hand still

6 : hand flat, pointing at the chest, as to say "me"

7 : flat hand against the chest, as to say "ooh great", "thank you"

8 : slowly raise hand (opposite to 3)

9 : same than 2, but with thumb and middle finger joined

10 : fist

11 : hand softly pending, horizontal forearm

12 : vertical hand, flat fingers except index and thumb, joined : “perfect”

13 : like 1, but with ring finger folded

14 : in position for singing/playing. freeze at the exact moment where the sound should come out.

15 : shrug

16 : hand covers the mouth

17 . index in front of mouth ("shhhh")

18 : hand clap

19 : finger snap

20 : arms up, greeting a crowd, or praising

all these gestures can produce sound or not.

MARIO BOSSI online, at last

During my stay in Darmstadt, in 2016, i was invited to work in the archive.
What i found there was beyond my expectations.
At first, in my naive enthousiasm, i showed my discoveries to everybody who could be interested: musicologists, musicians, directors, conductors, journalists.
But the reception was colder than ice.
I soon found out that these discoveries are too shocking to be accepted in the music societies, because they disrupt and attack the main values and certainties of our XX century music approach. So of course, who is ready to accept that he or she was wrong from the beginning?
I even received direct attacks from the Brugnon Society, accusing me of spreading Fake News!
Now i´m left alone with this truth, and with no surprise, nobody wants to hear of it.
It´s okay with me, i lost hope to establish any kind of truth in the domain of musicology and music history... i keep peaceful and silent at home, changing some details in my translation from english of the Music of Melancholia (1634) by David Fludd (Robert Fludd´s uncle).

Here one will find my only public presentation of the result of this research.

interview CDMC

– Est-ce que la question de la forme d'une œuvre est toujours aussi pertinente aujourd'hui dans l'acte de composition ? 
– Oui.

– Comment identifies-tu le métier de compositeur dans une création pluridisciplinaire, à la croisée de nombreux arts ?
– Mal. le compositeur n´existe plus. Sauf quelques ringards à foulard et mèche.

– Chaque oeuvre réinvente-t-elle une nouvelle forme ?
– Une oeuvre réussie oui, ratée non. Ou bien par hasard.

– Le format de diffusion d'une oeuvre est-il une contrainte pour l'invention ?
– Oui.

– Le travail avec les interprètes : y a-t-il nécessité à former de nouveaux interprètes à l'écriture de plateau ?
– Non.

– La place du compositeur dans l'interprétation de son oeuvre : le compositeur plus comme directeur artistique ?
– Alors, bien pauvre directeur artistique.

- Le "concert", un format daté ?
– Oui, comme le reste.

questions : Clément Lebrun

the Suitcase

A movie written, directed and shot by François Sarhan  

excerpts of the script, and photos from the shooting


Scene 1
Ernst, mid forties. Unshaven, haggard look, eyes seem empty, glazed over. When he starts the engine, the radio starts as well. He starts to drive.

 VOICES OVER (radio)
radio news, interview. A radio speaker, and a lady from the shop. ironic, like a show, provocative, aggressive, laughters, loud music
– So Mrs Wolf, tell us how it happened.
– Well, this afternoon, i was in my shop
– Which shop, mrs Wolf, which shop?
– Shaum Benantes, Klosterstr.
– In Moers, Mrs Wolf, we are in Moers.
– Yes, yes...
– And so, what happened, in Moers, damn it?
– Well.. comes this man, very elegant, with a strange accent, from... Italy maybe or... i don´t know where... He asks me to try the costumes, from the last collection, you know, the spring collection
– Mrs Wolf, are you interested in purchasing the exceptional jewellery made by Pierre de la Benoare Prout, thanks to this phenomenal Angebot we offer you NOW, here, in your miserable shitty shop?
– But... well, i don´t know, yes, certainly, i must... think...
– Congrats Mrs Wolf! And then, what happened in your stupid shop?
– Then suddenly he showed me a knife, and started to threaten me. I was so scared, i think i fainted.
– Ha ha ha, you really are a complete idiot, mrs Wolf, aren´t you?
– Oh yes, yes, of course!
– Ha ha ha isn´t she lovely ? And then, finish your boring story Mrs Wolf, quickly, we have a lot of commercials to play. Did he rape you at least?
– Ah? Well when i woke up, two costumes were stolen. That´s all.
– That´s all? No murder? No rape?
– Hum no... at least not that i know.

The sound of the radio is crappy, and Ernst has to hit the autoradio to establish the radio connection. Cracks, noises, loss of text in the lines, interferences.

At the end of the interview, ERNST, irritated, turns the radio off, plays a CD. his favorite music (coming from the autoradio).
  he looks in his back mirror, and notices he is followed (from far) by the police, he drives quicker and quicker.




the policeman follows ERNST.



A man (Schmuk) runs as quick as possible in the street, looking behind him from time to time. He carries a suitcase.


2.4. INT- CAR - ERNST (= 1.52 and 1.54)

ERNST, very nervous, turns brutally on the right, hoping to lose the car behind him.
ERNST sees Schmuk crossing suddenly the street, Schmuk disappears under his wheels. ERNST brutally brakes, hears a shock in front of the car. ERNST stays a few minutes under shock, then puts his face in his hands. After a moment of silence, he hears cars, police, etc, a few shadows runs here and there around the car.
The policeman knocks at ERNST´s window.
ERNST opens his window. The policeman face gets in the open window, staring at ERNST.



ERNST sits on a bench, still under shock. He sits before a desk, where the policeman writes on an old typewriter, without mentioning ERNST. ERNST has handcuffs. A phone, documents on his desk, the camera pans on the walls, posters, lists, photos. The policeman types for a few minutes, in silent.
He takes off the paper from the typewriter.

So, mr Schmidt, we already know each other, right?
This is your testimony. Let´s summarize. You´ve never seen the victim before, Michael Schmuk, you say: the victim ran in front of your car, and you had no time to stop before hitting him. However, it happens that you were at the edge of exceeding speed.
The problem is that you drunk before driving. Not a lot, certainly, the text gives less than 0,1 g. It´s luck, because last year, you were picked up on the road with 0.4 grams of alcohol.
What do you think of that?
Before i let you go, you owe us an explanation why you carry this knife with you.

(shows a large knife on the table. a beat)

Is it forbidden?

Well my record also tells that in 2008 you´ve been suspected of murder in a shop.

I had nothing to do with that, it´s a misunderstanding.

The murderer used a knife as well. Between alcohol control, this murder suspicion, and this... accident tonight... you must be a little careful...
If you agree with the testimony, sign here, and we have no reason to keep you here.
So go home, try to relax and sleep. The doctor says that you can ask for two days of rest, do you need a certificate?

(ERNST shakes head: no)

Ok i made some mistakes, i´m a bit easy on the bottle but... i never ever molested anyone, neither have i robbed anybody. And this guy, he ran ... so quick... It´s crazy.

I carry a knife since i´m 15. I never use it, i don´t need it. It´s a habit. But i don´t use it, or to open cardboard boxes, papers. i´m not paranoid, i don´t think this knife as a´s a tool..

Mmmh, I see. 
I just need your footprint here....
And your signature, there. Good bye mr Schmidt, and i hope not too soon.

The policeman gives ERNST documents.
ERNST, devastated, nodges, and takes his head in his hands.


1.29. INT DAY-alternating with INT CAR- SCHMUK

Stolnaya is in her car. She has a little screen (ipad or other) where she spies on Schmuk.
a luxury low table, a few long drinks, champaign, a phone. She picks up the phone and dials his number.
we see schmuk from this surveillance video camera (above, noisy, distorted)

So Schmuk, you like very much to travel, don´t you?

Euh... yes, what do you mean?

you wouldn´t like to leave us too soon, Schmuk, we would miss you so much.

Oh no i wouldn´t, i don´t, no no, of course.

Even if you would have beautiful luggage, it wouldn´t be a reason to leave us.

No of course, of course. i don´t have any luggage.

oh ho oh oh, Schmuk, [laughter] do you think it´s good to lie to Mam? You think she likes when you lie that way? You have no news from your friend from, don´t you? I´m the last one to have news, Schmuky. And they are not good.

You mean, no of course, no i.. i can bring it to you, Mrs TCHORNAIA, how do you want to get it?

ok, well i certainly can give it to, to MONIKA, for instance. And she will, i mean.. as soon as...

(more and more nervous, he swallows)


Or Ladislas, if you prefer.


I, i don´t forget what i owe you, Mrs TCHORNAIA, i know you´ve been very generous with me, and i will

I wonder what your dear MONIKA is going to become, Schmuky, mmh?

SCHMUK (shocked)

10 pm.

Yes, 10 pm, yes, of course, i will.

we hear the phone hung up and the tone.

what a fucking bitch. FUCKING BITCH!

we come back to Tchornaya, who looks at Schmuk insulting her. She stops the video of Schmuk, and dials another number.

Ladislas.... you´ll have to work a little on our friend Schmuk before he leaves with the suitcase... no no no don´t thank me... just find something clean. You know i can´t stand blood.

The suitcase, by François Sarhan
with Janina Akhmetova, Ernst Surberg, Magdalene ArteltPatrick Dollas, Matthias Heße, Marissa Möller, Frank Wickermann