André Boucourechliev (1925-1997)

André Boucourechliev left a dozen books, a hundred or so articles, concert and recording reviews, interviews, and correspondence. He liked to call himself a “music writer”, explaining: “By which I mean that I write books on music, but the word musicology seems inadequate to me, because it connotes a science, a career, a profession which are not mine. The term seems to delimit my role, which is ambitious on another level: these are the writings of a composer on music”. From this dual perspective, welcomed by numerous press organs, Boucourechliev waged a militant campaign on behalf of contemporary music amongst his colleagues, his performers, and more broadly all knowledgeable and/or sensitive listeners, without restricting himself to specialists.

Like any number of composers of his generation—Luciano Berio, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Iannis Xenakis, Henri Pousseur, Pierre Boulez—Boucourechliev left a vast corpus of writings. Born in Sofia, he arrived in Paris in 1949 as a virtuoso pianist. Raised in a Francophile milieu, he took French nationality in 1956. Starting from this same year, with the death of Walter Gieseking who had served as his mentor, he devoted himself to composition, without however submitting to any orthodoxy (serialism included), and simultaneously began to publish. His literary activity paralleled his career as a pianist and then composer and reflects more generally his position as a discerning and indispensable observer of the musical life of his times. The first work retained in his catalogue, Étude 1 (1956) for magnetic tape, realised at the Studio di fonologia in Milan, is exactly contemporary with his Schumann, which, on the author’s own account, is the work of a pianist, whereas his Beethoven (1963) is already that of a composer. Altogether, his oeuvre (musical and about music) spans four decades. His final composition, Trois fragments de Michel-Ange (1995) shortly preceded Regards sur Chopin (1996), his final book published during his lifetime, followed by the unfinished and posthumously published Debussy, la révolution subtile (1998). One last volume bears his signature: entitled À l’écoute (2006), it gathers together published and unpublished essays selected and presented by Jean Ducharme.

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birth year1925
death year1997
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Publications (10)