Many, perhaps most, well-known modern composers get short shift from Boulez. The minimalists like Glass and Reich “are too simple to be interesting”. John Adams? “I cannot say I will spit on his music, but I cannot admire it either. His opera The Death of Klinghoffer sounded like bad film music.” John Cage, whom he knew in the Forties, was “very trivial”. Erik Satie “could be funny, but was a small man.”

Pierre Boulez certainly isn’t afraid to speak his mind.

But then it sounds like John Adams isn’t afraid to do the same:

Boulez still does a limited amount of teaching, something he feels is best done as a “short and violent” activity, and even his musical enemies such as John Adams (who called Boulez “a mannerist… a niche composer… a master with a very small hammer”) acknowledge his prowess as a conductor, especially of contemporary works, which he has performed with many of the great orchestras of the world.

I read it here.


  1. It’s interesting to see that composers can be as bitchy as interior decorators.

  2. How ’bout compared to oboe players? Hmm?