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
Debussy: Pelléas Et Mélisande / Pierre Boulez
Release Date: 12/13/1991   Label: Sony  
Catalog: 47265   Number of Discs: 3
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Bartók: Bluebeard's Castle / Boulez, Norman, Polgár
Release Date: 07/14/1998   Label: Deutsche Grammophon  
Catalog: 447040   Number of Discs: 1
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Richard Wagner Edition - Das Rheingold / Pierre Boulez
Release Date: 06/28/1998   Label: Philips  
Catalog: 434421   Number of Discs: 2
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Richard Wagner Edition - Siegfried / Pierre Boulez
Release Date: 08/30/1998   Label: Philips  
Catalog: 434423   Number of Discs: 3
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Berg: Lulu / Boulez, Stratas, Minton, Schwarz, Et Al
Release Date: 10/08/2008   Label: Deutsche Grammophon  
Catalog: 415489   Number of Discs: 3
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Browse 1-25 of 218 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Daniel Barenboim: The Solo Recordings on Deutsche Grammophon
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 4797371 Release Date: 08/25/2017   Number of Discs: 39
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Alban Berg,  Johannes Brahms,  Frédéric Chopin  ... 
    Performer:  Daniel Barenboim,  Pinchas Zukerman,  Antony Pay
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain
    CD: $138.99
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  • 2.
    Pierre Boulez Conducts Stravinsky / French National Orchestra
    Label: Idi   Catalog: 6729 Release Date: 08/25/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Igor Stravinsky
    Performer:  Johanna Peters,  Herbert Handt
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  French National Orchestra,  French Radio Chorus
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  • 3.
    Daniel Barenboim: A Retrospective / Various
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88985393632 Release Date: 08/18/2017   Number of Discs: 46
    Composer:  Alban Berg,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,  Carl Stamitz  ... 
    Performer:  Daniel Barenboim,  Saschko Gawriloff,  Halina Lukomska,  Pinchas Zukerman  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez,  Daniel Barenboim,  Zubin Mehta
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra,  English Chamber Orchestra,  New York Philharmonic  ... 
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  • 4.
    DG 111: The Conductors / Various
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 4797477 Release Date: 08/04/2017   Number of Discs: 40
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel,  Alexander Scriabin,  Johannes Brahms  ... 
    Performer:  Gaston Litaize,  Alain Moglia,  Luben Yordanoff,  Christa Ludwig  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado,  Daniel Barenboim,  Leonard Bernstein,  Karl Böhm  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  New England Conservatory Chorus,  London Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $138.99
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  • 5.
    Schoenberg: Serenade, Op. 24 / Boulez
    Label: Wergo   Catalog: 67802 Release Date: 06/09/2017   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Arnold Schoenberg
    Performer:  Luben Yordanoff,  Guy Deplus,  Louis Montaigne,  Louis-Jacques Rondeleux  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    CD: $18.99
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  • 6.
    Pierre Boulez & The Cleveland Orchestra
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 4797248 Release Date: 04/28/2017   Number of Discs: 8
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Gustav Mahler,  Olivier Messiaen,  Maurice Ravel  ... 
    Performer:  Juliane Banse,  Pierre-Laurent Aimard
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra
    CD: $32.49
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  • 7.
    New York Philharmonic: 175th Anniversary Edition
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 533636 Release Date: 04/07/2017   Number of Discs: 65
    Composer:  Richard Wagner,  Richard Strauss,  Camille Saint-Saëns,  Ambroise Thomas  ... 
    Performer:  Oscar Levant,  Robert Casadesus,  Isaac Stern,  Yo-Yo Ma
    Conductor:  Willem Mengelberg,  Josef Stransky,  Arturo Toscanini,  Sir John Barbirolli  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
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  • 8.
    Wiener Philharmoniker: 175th Anniversary Edition
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 4797090 Release Date: 03/31/2017   Number of Discs: 45
    Composer:  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Johannes Brahms,  Anton Bruckner,  Emmanuel Chabrier  ... 
    Performer:  Anton Dermota,  Irmgard Seefried,  Rosette Anday,  Paul Schöffler  ... 
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein,  Rafael Kubelik,  Wilhelm Furtwängler,  James Levine  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra,  Arnold Schoenberg Choir,  Kuchl String Quartet  ... 
    CD: $175.49
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  • 9.
    Hommage a Boulez / Barenboim, West-Eastern Divan Orchestra
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002639702 Release Date: 03/24/2017   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Pierre Boulez
    Performer:  Michael Barenboim
    Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim,  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  West-Eastern Divan Orchestra,  IRCAM
    CD: $34.99
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  • 10.
    The Year 1917: Music in Turbulent Times
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 4796969 Release Date: 01/27/2017   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Ottorino Respighi,  Béla Bartók,  Manuel de Falla,  Gustav Holst  ... 
    Performer:  Julius Drake,  Ian Bostridge,  Eric Schneider,  Anna Prohaska  ... 
    Conductor:  Giuseppe Sinopoli,  Pierre Boulez,  Lorin Maazel,  William Steinberg  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic,  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $22.49
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  • 11.
    50 Classical Masterworks
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002596702 Release Date: 12/02/2016   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Richard Strauss,  Bedrich Smetana,  Johannes Brahms,  Antonín Dvorák  ... 
    Performer:  David Garrett,  Hélčne Grimaud,  Max Richter,  Daniel Hope  ... 
    Conductor:  Gustavo Dudamel,  Rafael Kubelik,  Herbert von Karajan,  André de Ridder  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  Konzerthaus Kammerorchester Berlin  ... 
    CD: $17.99
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  • 12.
    Complete Concerto Recordings on Deutsche Grammophon / Kremer
    Label: Dg Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002582102 Release Date: 11/18/2016   Number of Discs: 22
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Béla Bartók,  Alban Berg,  Ludwig van Beethoven  ... 
    Performer:  Gidon Kremer,  Heinz Holliger,  Mischa Maisky,  Rainer Keuschnig  ... 
    Conductor:  Gidon Kremer,  Pierre Boulez,  Sir Colin Davis,  Emil Tchakarov  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $120.49
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  • 13.
    The Originals, Vol. 2
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002534902 Release Date: 09/09/2016   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Béla Bartók,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  ... 
    Performer:  Helmut Walcha,  Nathan Milstein,  Géza Anda,  Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli  ... 
    Conductor:  Ferenc Fricsay,  Carlo Maria Giulini,  Eugen Jochum,  Wolfgang Schneiderhan  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Vienna Symphony Orchestra,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $142.49
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  • 14.
    Pinchas Zukerman: Complete Recordings on DG, Decca, & Philips
    Label: Dg Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002514302 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  ... 
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  • 15.
    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  ... 
    Recommendation
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  • 16.
    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  ... 
    CD: $39.99
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  • 17.
    Un Siecle De Musique Francaise: Claude Debussy
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88875192902 Release Date: 05/13/2016   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Gervase de Peyer,  Alice Chalifoux,  Michel Dalberto
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    CD: $14.99
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  • 18.
    Un Siecle De Musique Francaise: Pierre Boulez
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 88875192972 Release Date: 05/13/2016   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Pierre Boulez
    Conductor:  Diego Masson,  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Musique Vivante
    CD: $6.99
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  • 19.
    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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  • 20.
    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
    On sale! $118.99
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  • 21.
    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  ... 
    CD: $250.99
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  • 22.
    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  ... 
    CD: $39.99
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  • 23.
    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  ... 
    On sale! $87.98
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  • 24.
    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: $23.99
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  • 25.
    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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