M. Boulez, to appear as guest conductor this coming season with the New York Philharmonic and the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra, is a brilliant proponent of the meld of tradition and modernity in music--the ""justified synthesis."" He upholds the architecture of classicism but demands for music ""the right to parentheses and italics."" He suggests that Debussy (with his preference for structures that mixed precision and free will), Cezanne and Mallarme are the root of all modernity. Rejecting reading in music, he imagines that, more and more, ""the effective creator must take delirium into account and--yes--organize it."" M. Boulez devotes a portion of his book to the analysis of Stravinsky's rhythms, to Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire (""Schoenberg is dead""), to Berg, Webern, Messaien, Cage, others. The last section consists of ""Items for a Musical Encyclopedia"" which range from Chords and Chromaticism to Anton Webern. For the serious amateur, the less seasoned professional.