Lot 209
  • 209

Boulez, Pierre

30,000 - 40,000 GBP
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  • Boulez, Pierre
  • Autograph manuscript of "Doubles" for large orchestra, signed with initials and inscribed by the composer to the conductor Igor Markevitch, who commissioned the work
  • paper
the full orchestral score written in black ink on up to fifty-six staves per page, marked up by Boulez for performance in orange and blue crayon, for large orchestral forces divided spatially into three groups (on the stage and around the audience), identified in the score with brackets, comprising in all up to nine groups of strings (here marked with orange crayon), four groups of brass ("Cuivre 1"..."Cuivre 4"), three groups of woodwind ("Bois.1"..."Bois3"), percussion and three harps, inscribed by Boulez to Markevitch in blue ink at the foot of the first page, describing Doubles as the just first step in the composition process, albeit this manuscript is complete in itself ("A Igor Markevitch le début de ces Doubles, qui vont parcourir et tenir, j'espère, une position honorable.  Avec amitié et [...] sympathie PB")

16 pages, on 8 large folio single leaves (c.55.5 x 34cm), 56-stave paper ("Registre C.D.R. No.7"), in a paper wrapper inscribed by Markevitch in pencil ("Les Doubles, Boulez"), [1957-1958], creasing at central horizontal folds, browning to the final page


Igor Markevitch (1912-1983), from the composer; who gave it to the present owner in 1982.


T. Hirsbrunner, Pierre Boulez und sein Werk (1985), p.126-130; A. Edwards, 'Boulez's "Doubles" and "Figures Doubles Prismes": A Preliminary Study', in Tempo (1993), 6-17;  J. Goldman, 'Of Doubles, Groups and Rhymes. A Serialization of Works for Spatialized Orchestral Groups (1958-1960)', in J. Dunsby & J. Goldman, The Dawn of Music Semiology: Essays in Honor of Jean-Jacques Nattiez (2017)


Condition is described in the main body of the cataloguing, where appropriate
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Doubles was Boulez's first work for large orchestra, composed in 1957-1958 and performed by the Orchestre Lamoureux in Paris on 16 March 1958, following a commission for the orchestra from Igor Markevitch and Georges Auric. The result was "an eight-minute symphonic torso, Doubles, whose gripping intensity, heroic utterance, and vivid orchestral imagery marked it as potentially one of the composer's most important creative efforts" (Allen Edwards, in Tempo).  It is built as a set of variations, and the title is modelled on that used for the varied dance movements found in French suites, particularly in the form developed by J.S. Bach.  

Doubles (1958) represents Boulez's answer to Stockhausen's celebrated Gruppen (1955), a large-scale work where the vast forces are separated spatially into three orchestras, each requiring a separate conductor.  Jonathan Goldman compares this use of the spatial dimension in music to the growing interest in stereophonic music reproduction at this time. This manuscript full score of Doubles is divided vertically into three groups on the staves, and these groups are arranged spatially on the stage and around the audience: 

1) [on the left] "Cuivre 3", strings & harp, "Cuivre 1", strings, "Bois 2", muted strings;

2) [in the middle] 4 double-basses, xylophone, "Bois 1", vibraphone, celesta, violins;

3) [on the right] muted strings, "Bois 3", strings, "Cuivre 2", strings & harp, "Cuivre 4";

The arrangement of the instruments is different to that described by Hirsbrunner for Figures, Doubles, Prismes, Boulez's expansion of Doubles.  This is the form in which Boulez developed Doubles further in the following decade, firstly as a ten-minute work in 1964 and then as a fifteen-minute one in 1968, but which he never brought to a conclusion.  Conceived by the thirty-two-year-old composer at the height of his early fame, following Le marteau sans maître, Doubles was his first draft of a work for large orchestra: its "début", as he puts it in his dedication inscription to Markevitch.  Although the work is in a sense unfinished, and the music breaks off abruptly at the end, it accords with the full score of 'Doubles' (reproduced from another manuscript) in Figures, Doubles, Prismes (Vienna: Universal, 1960s).