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Structures I (1952) and Structures II (1961) are two related works for two pianos, composed by the Frenchmarker composer Pierre Boulez.

The first book of Structures was begun in early 1951, as Boulez was completing his orchestral work Polyphonie X, and finished in 1952. It consists of three movements, or "chapters", labelled Ia, Ib, and Ic, composed in the order a, c, b. The first of the second book's two "chapters" was composed in 1956, but chapter 2 was not written until 1961. The second chapter includes three sets of variable elements, which are to be arranged to make a performing version (Häusler 1965, 5).

Structures I was the last and most successful of Boulez's works to use the technique of integral serialism (Hopkins and Griffiths 2001), wherein many parameters of a piece's construction are governed by serial principles, rather than only pitch. Boulez devised scales of twelve dynamic levels (though in a later revision of the score these reduced to ten—Ligeti 1960, 40–41), twelve durations, and—from the outset—ten modes of attack (Ligeti 1960, 43), each to be used in a manner analogous to a twelve-tone row. The composer explains his purpose in this work:
I wanted to eradicate from my vocabulary absolutely every trace of the conventional, whether it concerned figures and phrases, or development and form; I then wanted gradually, element after element, to win back the various stages of the compositional process, in such a manner that a perfectly new synthesis might arise, a synthesis that would not be corrupted from the very outset by foreign bodies—stylistic reminiscences in particular.
(Boulez 1986a, 61)

Structures II is, on the other hand, a reconstruction of Structures I: its material is reused and rewritten, transformed into a new work with a more fluid means of expression. This kind of reworking of an earlier piece is quite common among Boulez's compositions, for instance recently the violin piece Anthèmes (1991) was transformed into Anthèmes II (1997) for violin and electronics, or the solo piano Incises (1994/1997/2001) into Sur Incises (1998).


  • Boulez, Pierre. 1986a. "Necessité d'une orientation esthétique (II)". Canadian University Music Review/Revue de Musique des Universités Canadiennes, no. 7:46–79.
  • Grant, Morag Josephine. 2001. Serial Music Serial Aesthetics: Compositional Theory in Post-War Europe. Music in the Twentieth Century, Arnold Whitall, general editor. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521804582
  • Häusler, Josef. 1965. "Klangfelder und Formflächen: Kompositorische Grundprinzipien im II. Band der Structures von Pierre Boulez". In liner notes to Pierre Boulez: Structures pour deux pianos, premier livre et deuxième livre, 5–12. Alfons and Aloys Kontarsky, pianos. Studio-Reihe neuer Musik. Baden-Baden: Wergo Schallplattenverlag GmbH. LP WER 60011.
  • Hopkins, G. W., and Paul Griffiths. 2001. "Boulez, Pierre." The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, ed. S. Sadie and J. Tyrrell. London: Macmillan.
  • Ligeti, György. 1960. "Pierre Boulez: Decision and Automatism in Structure Ia." Die Reihe 4 ("Young Composers"): 36–62. (Translated from the original German edition of 1958.)
  • Toop, Richard. 1974. “Messiaen / Goeyvaerts, Fano / Stockhausen, Boulez.” Perspectives of New Music 13, no. 1 (Fall-Winter): 141–69.
  • Whittall, Arnold. 2008. The Cambridge Introduction to Serialism. Cambridge Introductions to Music. New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-86341-4 (hardback) ISBN 978-0-521-68200-8 (pbk).

Further reading

  • Boulez, Pierre. 1986b. Orientations. London: Faber and Faber. ISBN 0-571-14347-4.
  • Deliège, Célestin. 1981. "Deux aspects de l'univers boulezien: Structures pour deux pianos à quatre mains". Critique, no. 408:478–84.
  • DeYoung, Lynden. 1978. "Pitch Order and Duration Order in Boulez Structure Ia", Perspectives of New Music 16, no. 2:27–34.
  • Febel, Reinhard. 1978. Musik für zwei Klaviere seit 1950 als Spiegel der Kompositionstechnik. Herrenberg: Musikverlag Döring. Second, revised and expanded edition, Saarbrücken: Pfau-Verlag, 1998. ISBN 3930735555.
  • Jameux, Dominique. 1989. Boulez: Le Marteau Sans Maître. Programme booklet. CBS Masterworks CD MK 42619,
  • Jameux, Dominique. 1991. Pierre Boulez. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0674667409.
  • Wilkinson, Marc. 1958. "Some Thoughts on Twelve-Tone Method (Boulez: Structure Ia)", Gravesaner Blätter no. 10:19–29.

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