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
Browse 1-25 of 208 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Pinchas Zukerman: Complete Recordings on DG, Decca, & Philips
    Label: Dg Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: B002514302 Release Date: 07/22/2016   Number of Discs: 22
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Antonio Vivaldi,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Franz Schubert  ... 
    Performer:  Pinchas Zukerman,  Midori,  Daniel Barenboim,  Marc Neikrug  ... 
    Conductor:  Pinchas Zukerman,  Daniel Barenboim,  Charles Dutoit,  Pierre Boulez  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra,  St. Paul Chamber Orchestra,  Chicago Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $78.99
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  • 2.
    Pierre Boulez Conducts Bartok
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88883797762 Release Date: 05/27/2016   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Béla Bartók
    Performer:  Tatiana Troyanos,  Siegmund Nimsgern
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic,  Camerata Singers,  Schola Cantorum New York  ... 
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  • 3.
    Un siecle de musique francaise (A Century of French Music)
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88875192862 Release Date: 05/13/2016   Number of Discs: 25
    Composer:  Pierre Boulez,  Claude Debussy,  Erik Satie,  Olivier Messiaen  ... 
    Performer:  Yvonne Minton,  Gervase de Peyer,  Michel Dalberto,  Daniel Varsano  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez,  Charles Munch,  Seiji Ozawa,  Richard Marlow  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Musique Vivante,  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra  ... 
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  • 4.
    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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  • 5.
    Europakonzert: 25 DVD Anniversary Box (1991-2015) / Berliner Philharmoniker
    Label: Euroarts   Catalog: 26098 Release Date: 04/29/2016  
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Béla Bartók,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Hector Berlioz  ... 
    Performer:  Leonidas Kavakos,  Mikhail Pletnev,  Violeta Urmana,  Elke Wilm Schulte  ... 
    Conductor:  Simon Rattle,  Pierre Boulez,  Gustavo Dudamel,  Claudio Abbado  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Swedish Radio Choir,  Eric Ericson Chamber Choir
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  • 6.
    The Menuhin Century: Luxury Edition
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 555050 Release Date: 04/22/2016   Number of Discs: 91
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Pierre-Alexandre Monsigny,  Arcangelo Corelli  ... 
    Performer:  Yehudi Menuhin,  Hubert Giesen,  Artur Balsam,  Marcel Gazelle  ... 
    Conductor:  Landon Ronald,  Pierre Monteux,  Jean Fournet,  Anatole Fistoulari  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Paris Symphonic Orchestra,  Colonne Concerts Orchestra  ... 
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  • 7.
    The Menuhin Century: The Virtuoso & His Landmark Recordings
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 555054 Release Date: 04/22/2016   Number of Discs: 13
    Composer:  Antonio Bazzini,  Antonín Dvorák,  Johannes Brahms,  Claude Debussy  ... 
    Performer:  Yehudi Menuhin,  Marcel Gazelle,  Ferguson Webster,  Artur Balsam  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Monteux,  Sir Colin Davis,  John Pritchard,  Efrem Kurtz  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Symphonic Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra,  New Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
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  • 8.
    Darmstadt Aural Documents, Box 3: Ensembles
    Label: Neos   Catalog: 11230 Release Date: 04/15/2016   Number of Discs: 7
    Composer:  Hanns Jelinek,  Herbert Brun,  Franco Evangelisti,  Iannis Xenakis  ... 
    Performer:  Roger Heaton,  Fernando Grillo,  Akemi Karaki,  Martine Joste  ... 
    Conductor:  Bruno Maderna,  Pierre Boulez,  Gregg Smith,  Robert HP Platz  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Végh String Quartet,  LaSalle String Quartet,  Parrenin String Quartet  ... 
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  • 9.
    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  ... 
    CD: $22.99
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  • 10.
    Bartok: Complete Works
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 002459502 Release Date: 03/25/2016   Number of Discs: 32
    Composer:  Béla Bartók
    Performer:  Erich Binder,  Zoltán Kocsis,  Viktoria Mullova,  Gil Shaham  ... 
    Conductor:  Gyorgy Lehel,  Iván Fischer,  Antal Doráti,  Pierre Boulez  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Budapest Symphony Orchestra,  Budapest Festival Orchestra,  Detroit Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $212.49
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  • 11.
    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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  • 12.
    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  ... 
    CD: $22.99
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  • 13.
    Berg: Wozzeck / Boulez, Paris Opera Orchestra & Chorus
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88697446192 Release Date: 10/30/2015   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Alban Berg
    Performer:  Albert Weikenmeier
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Paris Opera Orchestra,  Paris Opera Chorus
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  • 14.
    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
    CD: $182.99
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  • 15.
    Boulez Conducts Stravinsky
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88697714372 Release Date: 08/28/2015   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Igor Stravinsky
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    CD: $6.99
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  • 16.
    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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  • 17.
    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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  • 18.
    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  ... 
    On sale! $49.98
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  • 19.
    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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  • 20.
    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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  • 21.
    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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  • 22.
    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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  • 23.
    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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  • 24.
    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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  • 25.
    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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