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Pierre Boulez: Le Marteau sans maître

  • for alto and 6 instruments
  • alto fl, perc, vib, xylorimba, guit, vla
  • Duration: 35’
  • Soloists:
  • Instrumentation details:
    alto flute
  • Composer: Pierre Boulez
  • Text author: René Char
  • Table of contents:
    avant "l'Artisanat furieux"
    Commentaire I de "Bourreaux de solitude"
    "l'Artisanat furieux"
    Commentaire II de "Bourreaux de solitude"
    "Bel édifice et les pressentiments" version première
    "Bourreaux de solitude"
    après "l'Artisanat furieux"
    Commentaire III de "Bourreaux de solitude"
    "Bel édifice et les pressentiments" double
  • Dedication: à Hans Rosbaud

Work introduction

Le Marteau sans maître is a nine-part cycle, composed for contralto and six instrumentalists. Each of the parts is scored differently; four are for voice and changing instruments, while five are purely instrumental. On the one hand, the five instrumental pieces are organised in a prelude and postlude to the first vocal piece and, on the other, in three commentaries on the third vocal piece.

However, cohesive vocal and instrumental parts do not follow one another directly; they are woven throughout the entire piece like a web. The words of the second poem appear in two musical versions (Nos. V and IX). Comparison of the two versions makes the difference in handling the singing voice very clear: one the one hand, cantabile-melismatic, then syllabic voice leading combined with the melodic instruments alto flute, guitar, viola and, on the other, Sprechgesang with predominantly percussion accompaniment and wordless, quasi instrumental singing.

Der Hammer ohne Meister

Das rasende Handwerk
Der rote Karren am Rand des Nagels
Und Aas im Brotkorb
Und Ackerpferde am Hufeisen
Ich sinne den Kopf auf der Spitze meines Messers Peru

Schönes Gebäude und die Vorahnungen
Ich höre wandern in meinen Beinen
Das tote Meer Wellen hoch überm Haupt.
Kind der wilde Molenweg
Mann der nachgeahmte Wahn.
Reine Augen in den Wäldern
Suchen weinend das bewohnbare Haupt.

Henker der Einsamkeit
Der Schritt hat sich entfernt der Wanderer ist verstummt.
Auf das Zifferblatt der Nachahmung
Wirft das Pendel seine Last willenlosen Granits.
Übersetzung: Wolfgang Fink

Le Marteau sans maître
Poèmes de René Char

L’Artisanat furieux
La roulotte rouge au bord du clou
Et cadavre dans le panier
Et chevaux de labours dans le fer à cheval
Je rêve la tête sur la pointe de mon couteau le Pérou.

Bel édifice et les pressentiments
J’écoute marcher dans mes jambes
La mer morte vagues par-dessus tête
Enfant la jetée-promenade sauvage
homme l’illusion imitée
Des yeux purs dans les bois
Cherchent en pleurant la tête habitable.

Bourreaux de solitude

Le pas s’est éloigné le marcheur s’est tu
Sur le cadran de l’imitation
Le Balancier lance sa charge de granit réflexe.

©1934 Editions José Corti, Paris
Textes reproduits avec l’aimable autorisation de l’éditeur

The Hammer Unmastered

Furious handicraft
The red caravan beside the iron nail
And corpse in the basket
And carthorses in the horseshoe
I dream the head on the point of my knife, a Pérou.

Find building and premonitions
I hear walking in my limbs
The dead sea waves overhead
Child the wild pier
Man the imitated illusion
Pure eyes in the woods
Weeping seek the habitable head.

Hangmen of solitude
The step has gone away the walker fallen silent
On the dial of Imitation
The Pendulum casts its load of granite in reverse.

Translation: Paul Griffiths


The complete perusal score (PDF-preview)

World première

Baden-Baden (DE)
Mitglieder des SWF SO Baden-Baden
Hans Rosbaud
Main soloists:
Sybilla Plate

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