Pierre Boulez

Biography

Born: March 26, 1925; Montbrison, France   Died: January 5, 2016; Baden-Baden, Germany   Country: France   Period: 20th Century
Pierre Boulez, French composer, conductor, and music theorist, was a leading composer of the post-Webern serialist movement who also embraced elements of aleatory and electronics. As a child Boulez demonstrated a formidable aptitude in mathematics, but left for Paris in 1942 to enroll in the Paris Conservatoire. His studies there often ran into difficulties, as he was rapidly developing revolutionary -- "Praise be to amnesia" -- Read more attitudes towards all things traditional. But two decisive influences during those years helped to shape his musical personality. The first was Messiaen's famous analysis course, the other was René Leibowitz, who introduced him to serial music, where Boulez found "a harmonic and contrapuntal richness and a capacity for development an extension of a kind I have never found anywhere else."

By the late 1940s, Boulez began using a technique known as total serialization. A work which soon gave Boulez public notice was his Second Piano Sonata (1948), following a much publicized concert in Darmstadt in 1952 by Yvonne Loriod, Messiaen's wife. The piece from the 1950s that sealed his reputation was Le Marteau sans Maître from 1954 (revised in 1955), for singer and chamber ensemble. The instrumentation gives prominence to exotic percussion, extended vocal techniques, and textures that are often brittle but also lyrical. Rigorously organized, Le Marteau nonetheless goes beyond strict serialism to a more personal style. The premiere took place in Germany in 1955 under Hans Rosbaud. The Südwestfunk Radio underwrote an astounding 50 rehearsals in order that the piece be properly performed. During the latter 1950s he began allowing greater freedom for the performer in works like Improvisations sur Mallarmé for soprano and chamber ensemble. In his Third Piano Sonata (1957), the pianist can reorder the five movements in a variety of ways, and certain passages within the movements offer alternate paths, thereby making the artist select which to play and which to omit. In 1957, Boulez embarked on Pli Selon Pli, a work in five movements for soprano and orchestra to texts by Mallarmé, making use of a more restrained open-form technique. The middle movements are scored for sub-groups of the orchestra, balancing the larger forces of the outer movements. Boulez is also known for withdrawing and rewriting his compositions, making nearly everything he writes "a work in progress." For instance, ...explosante-fixe..., first sketched in 1971 has engendered a number of works and transitory phases over approximately twenty five years, including a 1996 version for Solo MIDI Flute and Chamber Ensemble. In 2000, he also received the prestigious Grawemeyer Award in Composition for his forty minute chamber piece Sur Incises for three pianos, three harps, and three percussionists.

Boulez was also one of the twentieth century's most influential conductors, known for extraordinarily precise performances of contemporary works by Bartok, Ligeti, Messiaen, and Varése, among many others. In 1968 he was named Music Director of both the BBC Symphony Orchestra and New York Philharmonic. In 1969, the Cleveland Orchestra named him Principal Guest Conductor. In 1970 French President Pompidou announced the experimental electronic music institute, Institut de Recherche et de Coordination Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM) to be under Boulez's administration, eventually causing him to withdraw from the BBC and New York posts. In 1975, he formed the Ensemble Inter Contemporain, an ensemble devoted entirely to the performance of new music, including his own Repons (1980). He was also appointed Principal Guest Conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1995. As a conductor, Boulez made many notable recordings; in 1996 he won a Grammy for his recording of Debussy's La Mer with the Cleveland Orchestra. Read less
The Edition - Boulez, Carter, Glass, Messiaen, Pärt
Release Date: 10/28/2008   Label: Juxtapositions  
Catalog: 3078398   Number of Discs: 5
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Pierre Boulez & the Lucerne Festival Academy - Inheriting the Future of Music
Release Date: 04/27/2010   Label: Euroarts  
Catalog: 2058048   Number of Discs: 1
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Salzburg Festival Opening Concerts / Boulez, Barenboim, Harnoncourt
Release Date: 09/24/2013   Label: C Major  
Catalog: 713608   Number of Discs: 4
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Pierre Boulez: The Complete Erato Recordings
Release Date: 03/10/2015   Label: Erato  
Catalog: 2564619048   Number of Discs: 14
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Browse 1-25 of 81 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Idil Biret: 20th Century Piano Edition
    Label: Naxos   Catalog: 8501504 Release Date: 05/13/2016   Number of Discs: 15
    Composer:  Béla Bartók,  Sergei Prokofiev,  Igor Stravinsky,  Pierre Boulez  ... 
    Performer:  Idil Biret
    CD: $68.99
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  • 2.
    Un siecle de musique francaise (A Century of French Music)
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88875192862 Release Date: 05/13/2016   Number of Discs: 25
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz,  Pierre Boulez,  Emmanuel Chabrier,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  Michel Dalberto,  Jean-Guihen Queyras,  Mathieu Dufour,  Eric Le Sage  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Munch,  Pierre Boulez,  Leonard Bernstein,  Hans Graf  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge Trinity College Choir,  Cambridge Trinity College Choir,  Ensemble Incanto  ... 
    CD: $39.99
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  • 3.
    Boulez: Pli selon pli / Bryn-Julson, Boulez, BBC Symphony
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 555256 Release Date: 05/06/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Pierre Boulez
    Performer:  Phyllis Bryn-Julson
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $13.99
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  • 4.
    Boulez: Young Composer & Conductor
    Label: Praga   Catalog: 250332 Release Date: 04/01/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Pierre Boulez,  Claude Debussy,  Igor Stravinsky
    Performer:  Louis Devos,  Barry McDaniel,  Joséphine Nendick
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Chorus,  BBC Symphony Orchestra,  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra  ... 
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  • 5.
    Mikka and Other Assorted Love Songs / Eric Rynes
    Label: Albany Records   Catalog: 1614 Release Date: 02/09/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Pierre Boulez,  Elliott Carter,  Kotoka Suzuki,  Giacinto Scelsi  ... 
    Performer:  Eric Rynes
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  • 6.
    Boulez: Complete Music for Solo Piano / Ponthus
    Label: Bridge   Catalog: 9456 Release Date: 01/05/2016   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Pierre Boulez
    Performer:  Marc Ponthus
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  • 7.
    111: The Collector's Editions [111 CDs]
    Label: Dg Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002422702 Release Date: 12/11/2015   Number of Discs: 111
    Composer:  Johannes Brahms,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Maurice Ravel,  Felix Mendelssohn  ... 
    Performer:  David Oistrakh,  Igor Oistrakh,  Sviatoslav Richter,  Martha Argerich  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado,  Daniel Barenboim,  Lorin Maazel,  Franz Konwitschny  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Amadeus Quartet,  Orchestre de Paris  ... 
    CD: $325.49
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  • 8.
    From The History Of The Tchaikovsky Competition Phonodocuments
    Label: Melodiya   Catalog: 1002349 Release Date: 08/14/2015   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Spoken Word,  Dmitri Kabalevsky,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Frédéric Chopin  ... 
    Performer:  Naum Shtarkman,  Stefan Ruha,  Victoria Stefanescu,  Lev Vlasenko  ... 
    Conductor:  Kiril Kondrashin,  Boris Khaikin,  Neeme Järvi,  Fuat Mansurov  ... 
    CD: $88.99
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  • 9.
    Masterworks of the 20th Century
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88875061902 Release Date: 07/10/2015   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Pierre Boulez,  Toru Takemitsu,  Igor Stravinsky,  Gunther Schuller  ... 
    Performer:  Yvonne Minton,  Yuji Takahashi,  James Pappoutsakis,  John Kirkpatrick  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez,  Seiji Ozawa,  Erich Leinsdorf,  Danlee Mitchell  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Musique Vivante,  New Philharmonia Strings,  Toronto Symphony  ... 
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  • 10.
    Pascal Gallois: Solo
    Label: Stradivarius   Catalog: 37020 Release Date: 07/10/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Olga Neuwirth,  Pierre Boulez,  Luciano Berio
    Performer:  Pascal Gallois
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  • 11.
    Dialogues / Erik Bosgraaf
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 94842 Release Date: 04/28/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Pierre Boulez
    Performer:  Erik Bosgraaf,  Jorrit Tamminga
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  • 12.
    111 - The Piano - Legendary Recordings
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002281002 Release Date: 04/21/2015   Number of Discs: 40
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Robert Schumann,  Frédéric Chopin,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Pierre-Laurent Aimard,  Géza Anda,  Martha Argerich,  Daniel Barenboim  ... 
    CD: $168.99
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  • 13.
    Pierre Boulez - Le Domaine Musical, 1956-1967 [10-CD Set]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002287572 Release Date: 04/21/2015   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Karlheinz Stockhausen,  Luciano Berio,  Pierre Boulez,  Olivier Messiaen  ... 
    Performer:  Severino Gazzelloni,  Georges von Gucht,  Jeanne Deroubaix,  Serge Collot  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez,  Rudolf Albert,  Hans Rosbaud
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Domaine Musicale Orchestra,  Les Percussions de Strasbourg,  Parrenin string quartet  ... 
    CD: $98.49
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  • 14.
    Pierre Boulez: The Complete Erato Recordings
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 2564619048 Release Date: 03/10/2015   Number of Discs: 14
    Composer:  Arnold Schoenberg,  Igor Stravinsky,  Pierre Boulez,  Luciano Berio  ... 
    Performer:  Pierre Amoyal,  Peter Serkin,  Simon Estes,  Ann Murray  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez,  Daniel Barenboim
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Ensemble InterContemporain,  BBC Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 15.
    Pierre Boulez - 20th Century
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002250902 Release Date: 02/10/2015   Number of Discs: 44
    Composer:  Béla Bartók,  Alban Berg,  Harrison Birtwistle,  Pierre Boulez  ... 
    Performer:  John Tomlinson,  John Aler,  Krystian Zimerman,  Leif Ove Andsnes  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez,  Martyn Brabbins
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  Chicago Symphony Chorus,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $279.49
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  • 16.
    Pierre Boulez: The Complete Columbia Album Collection
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 301333 Release Date: 11/24/2014   Number of Discs: 67
    Composer:  Béla Bartók,  Alexander Scriabin,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Alban Berg  ... 
    Performer:  Karl Dönch,  Isabel Strauss,  Walter Berry,  Fritz Uhl  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez,  Anton Webern
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic,  Camerata Singers,  Schola Cantorum New York  ... 
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  • 17.
    Moderne
    Label: Harmonia Mundi   Catalog: 2908710 Release Date: 11/11/2014   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Francis Poulenc,  Maurice Ravel,  Erik Satie  ... 
    Performer:  Alexandre Tharaud,  Jean-Guihen Queyras,  Ronald Van Spaendonck,  Eric Le Sage  ... 
    Conductor:  Andrea Quinn
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  • 18.
    The New Music Vol 2 - Boulez, Haubenstock-Ramati, Maderna / Rome Symphony Orchestra
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 3266 Release Date: 03/18/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Pierre Boulez,  Roman Haubenstock-Ramati,  Bruno Maderna,  Luigi Nono  ... 
    Performer:  Severino Gazzelloni,  Frederic Rzewski,  Lothar Faber
    Conductor:  Bruno Maderna
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Symphony Orchestra
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  • 19.
    Erato - 50 CD Collection
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 46441 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Tomaso Albinoni,  Giuseppe Tartini,  Georg Philipp Telemann,  Giuseppe Torelli  ... 
    Performer:  Maurice André,  Pierre Pierlot,  Paul Hongne,  Jacques Chambon  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner,  Jean-François Paillard,  Frigyes Sándor,  Kent Nagano  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chamber Ens.,  Paillard Chamber Orchestra,  Vienna Soloists  ... 
    On sale! $299.98
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  • 20.
    Boulez Conducts Boulez - Le Marteau Sans Maitre, Livre Pour Cordes / Minton
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 74930 Release Date: 10/15/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Pierre Boulez
    Performer:  Yvonne Minton
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Musique Vivante,  New Philharmonia Strings
    ArkivCD $16.99
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  • 21.
    The Inner Time: Contemporary Music For Clarinet
    Label: Clarinet Classics   Catalog: 67 Release Date: 10/08/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Horatiu Radulescu,  Mihailo Trandafilovski,  Pierre Boulez,  Giacinto Scelsi
    Performer:  Roger Heaton
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Kreutzer String Quartet
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  • 22.
    Variations On A Theme By Scarlatti / Matan Porat
    Label: Mirare   Catalog: 213 Release Date: 10/08/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Domenico Scarlatti,  François Couperin,  Leos Janácek,  Felix Mendelssohn  ... 
    Performer:  Matan Porat
    CD: $23.99
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  • 23.
    Idil Biret: LP Originals Edition 1959-1986 [14-CD Set]
    Label: Iba [idil Biret Archives]   Catalog: 8501402 Release Date: 09/24/2013   Number of Discs: 14
    Composer:  Robert Schumann,  Johannes Brahms,  Sergei Prokofiev,  Béla Bartók  ... 
    Performer:  Idil Biret
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London String Quartet
    CD: $58.99
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  • 24.
    Salzburg Festival Opening Concerts / Boulez, Barenboim, Harnoncourt
    Label: C Major   Catalog: 713608 Release Date: 09/24/2013   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Igor Stravinsky,  Béla Bartók,  Maurice Ravel,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Daniel Barenboim,  Klaus Florian Vogt,  Elina Garanca,  René Pape  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez,  Nikolaus Harnoncourt,  Daniel Barenboim
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Chorus
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  • 25.
    ...avec un frisson - Late Piano Works of Debussy & Boulez / Yegor Shevtsov
    Label: New Focus   Catalog: 132 Release Date: 08/27/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Pierre Boulez,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Yegor Shevtsov
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