Messagesquisse mystery

Okay- our webstats here at Vftp show a sudden flurry of hits from a reader or readers obsessed with Pierre Boulez’s Messagesquisse for Solo Cello and Six Cellos. Written at the request of Mstislav Rostropovich as a birthday present for the conductor Paul Sacher, it is built on a 6 note theme based on the letters of Sacher’s name Es (e flat) A C H (b natural) E R (re or d natural). It was the final “variation” of a set of 12 written by 12 different composers, including Dutilleux, Holiger, Lutoslawski and Berio with the theme by Britten (his final work).

I did my DMA lecture recital on this piece and have played it a few times- it’s very difficult, lots of fun and an interesting study in the possibilities of rotation technique. I’m the only cellist I know who does it without a conductor.

More importantly, if you can solve the mystery of who is seeking info on Messagesquisse, or if you are the one with questions, please email us here at

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About the author

American conductor, composer and cellist Kenneth Woods is Principal Conductor of the English Symphony Orchestra, Artistic Director of the Colorado MahlerFest and cellist of the string trio Ensemble Epomeo. He records for the Avie, Somm, Nimbus, Signum, MSR and Toccata labels.

Learn about Kenneth at

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