Rituel in memoriam Bruno Maderna

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Rituel in memoriam Bruno Maderna
by Pierre Boulez
Pierre Boulez (1968).jpg
The composer in 1968
Composed 1974 (1974)–75
Dedication Memory of Bruno Maderna
Performed 2 April 1975 (1975-04-02): London
Scoring large chamber ensemble in eight groups

Rituel in memoriam Bruno Maderna (1974–75) is a composition for large chamber ensemble in eight groups by the Pierre Boulez. It was first performed in London on 2 April 1975 by the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Boulez.[1]


The work was written after the death of Boulez's fellow composer Bruno Maderna, and Boulez describes it as "A ceremony of memory, in which there are numerous repetitions of the same formulas, in constantly changing profiles and perspectives".[2]

Gunther Schuller conducted the Berkshire Music Center Orchestra, a student ensemble, in the U.S. premiere of Rituel on 14 August 1975 as part of the Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music.[3] Boulez conducted the New York Philharmonic in the New York premiere (and the U.S. premiere by a professional orchestra) on 13 January 1977. He "was greeted with boos as well as cheers. He took several bows, and the cheers eventually won out."[4] Though Boulez separated the groups of players as far apart on the stage as possible, David Robertson, conducting the Orchestre National de Lyon at Carnegie Hall in 2003, placed some in the auditorium's balconies.[5] In 2012 Alan Gilbert led a performance in New York's Park Avenue Armory, placing the groups "high and low all over the hall".[6]


Boulez based the tonal structure of Rituel largely on a set of seven tones, corresponding to the number of the letters in the name "Maderna".[7] These are the same pitches used in the row of ...explosante-fixe....[8]

The work divides the players into eight groups, that are widely separated across the performance space. Each group features a different category of instruments and a different number of players (one oboe, two clarinets, three flutes, etc.). Except in the case of the brass group, which is the largest, a percussionist is assigned to each group to maintain its specific tempo, since the groups are independent of one another in terms of rhythm, while the conductor maintains a larger scale organization. The use of groups and their spacing reflects many of Maderna's works, such as Quadrivium (1969).[9]


In 1977 Krzysztof Penderecki, asked which contemporary composers he liked, said: "I like Boulez's last piece Rituel, because it's like Messiaen; Boulez seems to have changed his style."[10]


  1. ^ Jameux 1991, 351.
  2. ^ In the program booklet for the second part of the IRCAM concert series Passage du XXe siècle (Sept.–Dec. 1977): 5, cited in Blumröder 1982, 184.
  3. ^ Henahan 1975.
  4. ^ Schonberg 1977
  5. ^ Tommasini 2003
  6. ^ Tommasini 2012.
  7. ^ Blumröder 2006; Jameux 1991, 355–56.
  8. ^ Campbell 2010, 206.
  9. ^ Derrien 2002.
  10. ^ Hiemenz 1977.
  • Beiche, Michael (1981). "Serielles Denken in Rituel von Pierre Boulez". Archiv für Musikwissenschaft 38:24–56.
  • Blumröder, Christoph von (1982). "Formel-Komposition—Minimal Music—Neue Einfachheit: Musikalische Konzeptionen der siebziger Jahre." In Neuland Jahrbuch 2 (1981/82), edited by Herbert Henck, 183–205. Bergisch Gladbach: Neuland Verlag.
  • Blumröder , Christoph von (2006). "Stationen der Neuen Musik seit 1950". Unpublished lecture, Musikwissenschaftliches Institut der Universität zu Köln (9 May).
  • Campbell, Edward (2010). Boulez, Music and Philosophy. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-86242-4.
  • Derrien, Jean-Pierre (2002). CD inlay booklet for Notations, Figures-doubles-prismes, Rituel. Naïve MO 782163. Lyons: Naïve.
  • Harley, James (n.d.). Pierre Boulez / Rituel: In Memoriam Bruno Maderna, for orchestra AllMusic.
  • Henahan, Donal (16 August 1975). "Boulez's 'Rituel'" (PDF). New York Times. Retrieved 18 January 2016. 
  • Hiemenz, Jack (27 February 1977). "A Composer Praises God as One who Lives in Darkness" (PDF). New York Times. Retrieved 18 January 2016. 
  • Jameux, Dominique (1991). Pierre Boulez. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. pp. 355–56. ISBN 0-674-66740-9. 
  • Schonberg, Harold (1977). "Boulez Work Has Premiere Here" (PDF). New York Times (14 January). Retrieved 18 January 2016. 
  • Tommasini, Anthony (2003). "For Adventure, Try Boulez and Stay Till the End". New York Times (27 January). Retrieved 18 January 2016. 
  • Tommasini, Anthony (2012). "Surround Sound Through the Centuries". New York Times (1 July). Retrieved 18 January 2016. 

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