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
Pierre Boulez In Rehearsal
Release Date: 05/31/2011   Label: Kultur Video  
Catalog: 4573   Number of Discs: 1
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Browse 201-213 of 213 Available Recordings
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  • 201.
    Debussy: Images, Etc / Boulez, Cleveland Orchestra
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 435766 Release Date: 02/16/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra
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  • 202.
    Schoenberg: Pelleas And Melisande, Etc / Boulez, Chicago So
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 45827 Release Date: 02/09/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Arnold Schoenberg
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
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  • 203.
    Bartok: The Wooden Prince; Cantata Profana / Boulez, Chicago Symphony
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 435863 Release Date: 11/10/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Béla Bartók
    Performer:  John Tomlinson,  John Aler
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Chorus,  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
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  • 204.
    Stravinsky: Pétrouchka, Le Sacre Du Printemps / Boulez
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 435769 Release Date: 10/13/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Igor Stravinsky
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra
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  • 205.
    Bartok: Miraculous Mandarin, Pieces For Orchestra / Boulez, New York PO
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 45837 Release Date: 12/13/1991   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Béla Bartók
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Schola Cantorum New York,  New York Philharmonic,  Camerata Singers
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  • 206.
    Debussy: Pelléas Et Mélisande / Pierre Boulez
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 47265 Release Date: 12/13/1991   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  George Shirley,  Donald McIntyre,  David Ward,  Yvonne Minton  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra,  Royal Opera House Covent Garden Chorus
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  • 207.
    Mahler: Das Klagende Lied / Boulez, London So & Chorus
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 45841 Release Date: 12/13/1991   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler
    Performer:  Ernst Haefliger,  Grace Hoffman,  Elisabeth Söderström,  Gerd Nienstedt  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Chorus,  London Symphony Orchestra
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  • 208.
    Webern: Complete Works Op 1-31 / Pierre Boulez
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 45845 Release Date: 02/08/1991   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Franz Schubert,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Anton Webern
    Performer:  Halina Lukomska,  Charles Rosen,  Daniel Majeske,  Abraham Weinstein  ... 
    Conductor:  Anton Webern,  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Frankfurt Radio Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra,  John Alldis Choir  ... 
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  • 209.
    Webern: Complete Works Op 1-31 / Pierre Boulez
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 045845 Release Date: 02/08/1991   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Franz Schubert,  Johann Sebastian Bach,  Anton Webern
    Performer:  Halina Lukomska,  Charles Rosen,  Abraham Weinstein,  Robert Marcellus  ... 
    Conductor:  Anton Webern,  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Frankfurt Radio Orchestra,  London Symphony Orchestra,  John Alldis Choir  ... 
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  • 210.
    Ravel: The Orchestral Works / Pierre Boulez
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 45842 Release Date: 01/14/1991   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Philippe Entremont,  Harold Gomberg
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra,  New York Philharmonic,  Camerata Singers
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  • 211.
    Handel: Water Music, Royal Fireworks / Boulez, New York Po
    Label: Cbs Great Performances   Catalog: 38480 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
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  • 212.
    Ligeti: Chamber Concerto, Ramifications / Boulez
    Label: Dg 20th Century Classics   Catalog: 423244 Release Date: 10/25/1990   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  György Ligeti
    Performer:  Walter Levin,  Henry Meyer,  Jack Kirstein,  Peter Kamnitzer  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez,  Helmut Franz
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain,  LaSalle String Quartet,  North German Radio Chorus Hamburg
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  • 213.
    Schoenberg: Choral Music / Pierre Boulez, BBC Singers
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 44571 Release Date: 10/10/1990   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Arnold Schoenberg
    Performer:  Günter Reich,  John Shirley-Quirk,  John Constable,  Christopher Van Kampen  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Singers,  BBC Symphony Chorus,  BBC Symphony Orchestra
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