“Romantic” Serialism (Sonata for Piano by Jean Barraqué)

Ekaterina G. Okuneva


The article discloses the particular features of the use of serial technique and the artistic conception of one of the most well-known compositions by the French composer Jean Barraqué – the Sonata for Piano (1951). The author of the article analyzes the principles of organization of different musical parameters (tempo, dynamics, rhythm, pitch, etc.), showing what role they play in the composition. The overall idea of the Sonata is interpreted in the categories of “death,” “incompleteness” and “artistic self-realization,” which are fundamental to all of Barraqué’s musical output. Their embodiment is represented by three pairs of antitheses – sound and silence, fast and slow tempo, “strict” and “free” style, which reflect the composer’s philosophical reflections on life and death. The uniqueness of Barraqué’s musical thought made it possible to define him as belonging to a special trend in serial music, which the author conditionally terms as “romantic” serialism.

Keywords: Jean Barraqué, Pierre Boulez, serialism, serial technique

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