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Pierre Boulez


Born: March 26, 1925   Country: France   Period: 20th Century
Pierre Boulez (b. 1925), French composer, conductor, and music theorist, is regarded as 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 is 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 has made many notable recordings; in 1996 he won a Grammy for his recording of Debussy's La Mer with the Cleveland Orchestra. Read less
Pierre Boulez conducts Ravel
Release Date: 11/13/2015   Label: Sony  
Catalog: 88875108732   Number of Discs: 5
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Browse 1-25 of 188 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Pierre Boulez conducts Ravel
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88875108732 Release Date: 11/13/2015   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Philippe Entremont,  Jill Gomez,  Jessye Norman,  José Van Dam  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez,  Eugene Ormandy
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic,  Camerata Singers,  Cleveland Orchestra  ... 
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  • 2.
    Stravinsky Complete Edition [30-CD Set]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002398272 Release Date: 10/23/2015   Number of Discs: 30
    Composer:  Igor Stravinsky
    Performer:  Felicity Palmer,  Ian Caley,  Phyllis Bryn-Julson,  John Tomlinson  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez,  Riccardo Chailly,  Claudio Abbado,  Gennadi Rozhdestvensky  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra,  BBC Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $191.98
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  • 3.
    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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  • 4.
    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  ... 
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  • 5.
    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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  • 6.
    Europakonzert 2003 / Boulez, Berlin Philharmonic
    Label: Euroarts   Catalog: 2053074 Release Date: 02/24/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Béla Bartók,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Maurice Ravel,  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Maria-Joao Pires
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
    Blu-ray Video: $29.99
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  • 7.
    Pierre Boulez - Emotion & Analysis [10 DVDs]
    Label: Euroarts   Catalog: 2061008 Release Date: 02/24/2015   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler,  Claude Debussy,  Pierre Boulez,  Igor Stravinsky  ... 
    Performer:  Petra Lang,  Diana Damrau,  Maria-Joao Pires,  Elisabete Matos  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez,  Daniel Barenboim
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Staatskapelle Orchestra,  Lucerne Festival Academy Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    DVD: $98.99
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  • 8.
    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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  • 9.
    Bruckner: Symphony No 8 / Boulez, Vienna Philharmonic
    Label: Euroarts   Catalog: 2012756 Release Date: 01/27/2015   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Anton Bruckner
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
    DVD: $29.99
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  • 10.
    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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  • 11.
    Boulez Conducts Webern Vol 3 / Berliner Philharmonic
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002132802 Release Date: 09/16/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Anton Webern
    Performer:  Christiane Oelze,  Gerald Finley
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  BBC Singers
    CD: $14.99
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  • 12.
    Pierre Boulez In Moscow
    Label: Melodiya   Catalog: 2255 Release Date: 09/09/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Igor Stravinsky,  Anton Webern,  Claude Debussy
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    CD: $18.99
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  • 13.
    Pierre Boulez: 3 Classic Albums [limited Edition]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002093202 Release Date: 07/15/2014   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Krystian Zimerman
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $21.99
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  • 14.
    Schonberg: Pierrot Lunaire
    Label: Wergo   Catalog: 6778 Release Date: 07/08/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Arnold Schoenberg
    Performer:  Guy Deplus,  Luben Yordanoff,  Maria Bergmann,  Jean Huchot  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
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  • 15.
    100 Great Symphonies
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002054602 Release Date: 06/03/2014   Number of Discs: 56
    Composer:  Giovanni Battista Sammartini,  Johann Wenzel Stamitz,  Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf,  Johann Christian Bach  ... 
    Performer:  Dame Gwyneth Jones,  Hanna Schwarz,  René Kollo,  Kurt Moll  ... 
    Conductor:  Kevin Mallon,  Christopher Hogwood,  Thomas Füri,  Sir Neville Marriner  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Aradia Ensemble,  Academy of Ancient Music,  Camerata Bern  ... 
    CD: $245.99
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  • 16.
    Augusta Read Thomas: Aureole; Carillon Sky; Words Of The Sea; Terpsichore's Dream; In My Sky At Twilight
    Label: Nimbus   Catalog: 6258 Release Date: 04/08/2014   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Augusta Read Thomas
    Performer:  Christine Brandes,  Baird Dodge,  Greg Heustis
    Conductor:  Cliff Colnot,  Pierre Boulez,  Oliver Knussen,  Jack Delaney
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Music Now Ensemble,  Meadows Wind Ensemble
    On sale! $17.98
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  • 17.
    Pierre Boulez Conducts Schoenberg
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 42957 Release Date: 01/01/2014   Number of Discs: 11
    Composer:  Arnold Schoenberg
    Performer:  Siegmund Nimsgern,  Kenneth Bowen,  Ian Partridge,  Paul Hudson  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra,  BBC Singers,  New York Philharmonic  ... 
    CD: $19.99
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  • 18.
    Boulez Conducts Mahler - Complete Recordings
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001931702 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 14
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler
    Performer:  Johan Botha,  Dorothea Röschmann,  Anna Larsson,  Christian Gerhaher  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Chorus Konzertvereinigung,  Cleveland Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $48.99
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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
    CD: $249.99
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  • 20.
    Berlin Philharmonic - Centenary Edition
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001923302 Release Date: 10/22/2013   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Hector Berlioz,  Richard Wagner,  Richard Strauss  ... 
    Performer:  Géza Anda,  Walter Berry,  Gundula Janowitz,  Hilde Rössl-Majdan  ... 
    Conductor:  Arthur Nikisch,  Alfred Hertz,  Richard Strauss,  Bruno Walter  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Singverein,  Swedish Radio Chorus  ... 
    CD: $168.99
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  • 21.
    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
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  • 22.
    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
    DVD: $88.99
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  • 23.
    Claude Debussy - Music Cannot Be Learned
    Label: Euroarts   Catalog: 2066718 Release Date: 08/27/2013   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Zoltán Kocsis
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    DVD: $19.99
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  • 24.
    My Wagner Album / Christian Thielemann
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001884102 Release Date: 08/27/2013   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Paul Schöffler,  Brigitte Fassbaender,  Thomas Stewart,  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau  ... 
    Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler,  Christian Thielemann,  Hans Knappertsbusch,  Carlos Kleiber  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Vienna State Opera Chorus  ... 
    CD: $21.99
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  • 25.
    Pierre Boulez: The Complete Works [13-CD Set]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001836502 Release Date: 07/23/2013   Number of Discs: 13
    Composer:  Pierre Boulez
    Performer:  Sophie Cherrier,  Pierre-André Valade,  Emmanuelle Ophčle,  Pierre-Laurent Aimard  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez,  Diego Masson,  Roger Desormičre
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain,  BBC Symphony Orchestra,  BBC Singers  ... 
    CD: $98.49
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