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Incises (1994/2001) and Sur Incises (1996/1998) are two related works of the French composer Pierre Boulez.

Incises is Boulez's first work for solo piano since his third piano sonata of 1955–57/63. Originally written in 1994 as a test piece for the Umberto Micheli Piano Competition,[1] it has been revised twice, most recently in 2001. It plays with contrasts of gestures and textures, for instance, repeated pitches or chords in an even tempo interrupted by violent melodic arcs, or sparse chordal interjections without discernible rhythm over long held sonorities.

Sur Incises followed a few years later as a two-movement work based on the material of Incises. This work is for 3 pianos, 3 harps, and 3 percussion parts (covering a variety of tuned percussion instruments: vibraphone, marimba, glockenspiel, steel drums, tubular bells, and crotales). Here the sounds of the piano are broken into component parts played by the harps and percussion, and stretched across space as well by having the three groups spread apart in the performance space. This kind of reworking of an earlier piece is characteristic of Boulez, the first instance being Structures. Sur Incises was awarded the Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition given by the University of Louisville.

  1. Moment I
  2. Moment II

The pitches of the row used in Incises, and sur Incises are used in the rows (based on the Sacher hexachord) for Répons, Messagesquisse, and Dérive 1.[2]


Further reading[edit]

  • Boulez, Pierre. 2001. Incises pour piano (version 2001). Vienna: Universal Edition. UE 31 966. ISBN 3-7024-1186-0
  • Fink, Wolfgang. 2000. Boulez: Sur Incises, programme booklet. Hamburg: Deutsche Grammophon CD 463 475-2.

External links[edit]