Pierre Boulez

Biography

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 Schoenberg
Release Date: 01/01/2014   Label: Sony  
Catalog: 42957   Number of Discs: 11
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Browse 201-68 of 68 Available Recordings
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  • 201.
    Bartók: The Miraculous Mandarin, Etc / Boulez, Chicago So
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 447747 Release Date: 04/09/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Béla Bartók
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  Chicago Symphony Chorus
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  • 202.
    Birtwistle: Secret Theatre / Boulez, Ensemble Intercontemporain
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 439910 Release Date: 03/12/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Harrison Birtwistle
    Performer:  Christine Whittlesey
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain
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  • 203.
    Boulez Conducts Webern II / Berliner Philharmoniker
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 447099 Release Date: 02/13/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Anton Webern,  Franz Schubert
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 204.
    Berg: Kammerkonzert;  Stravinsky / Boulez, Barenboim, Et Al
    Label: Dg The Originals   Catalog: 447405 Release Date: 01/23/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Igor Stravinsky,  Alban Berg
    Performer:  Michel Arrignon,  Pinchas Zukerman,  Daniel Barenboim
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain
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  • 205.
    Boulez Conducts Boulez: ...explosante-fixe...
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 445833 Release Date: 01/23/1996   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Pierre Boulez
    Performer:  Pierre-Laurent Aimard,  Florent Boffard,  Sophie Cherrier,  Pierre-André Valade  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain
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  • 206.
    Carter: Symphony Of 3 Orchestraa;  Varese / Pierre Boulez
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 68334 Release Date: 12/05/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Edgard Varčse,  Elliott Carter
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain,  ORTF Chorus,  New York Philharmonic
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  • 207.
    Debussy: Orchestral Works / Pierre Boulez
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 68327 Release Date: 12/05/1995   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Alice Chalifoux,  Gervase de Peyer
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra,  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  John Alldis Choir
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  • 208.
    Pierre Boulez Edition - Berg: Chamber Concerto, Etc
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 68331 Release Date: 12/05/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alban Berg
    Performer:  Pinchas Zukerman,  Saschko Gawriloff,  Daniel Barenboim
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  BBC Symphony Orchestra
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  • 209.
    Pierre Boulez Edition - Boulez: Pli Selon Pli, Livre pour Cordes / BBC SO
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 68335 Release Date: 12/05/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Pierre Boulez
    Performer:  Halina Lukomska,  Maria Bergmann,  Paul Stingl,  Hugo D'Alton
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Philharmonia Strings,  BBC Symphony Orchestra
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  • 210.
    Messiaen: Et Exspecto Resurrectionem Mortuorum / Boulez
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 445827 Release Date: 10/17/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Olivier Messiaen
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra members,  Cleveland Orchestra
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  • 211.
    Ravel: Daphnis Et Chloé, La Valse / Boulez, Berlin Po
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 447057 Release Date: 09/19/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra,  Berlin Radio Chorus
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  • 212.
    Bartók: Divertimento, Dance Suite, Etc / Boulez, Chicago So
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 445825 Release Date: 05/16/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Béla Bartók
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
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  • 213.
    Mahler: Symphonie No 6 / Boulez, Wiener Philharmoniker
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 445835 Release Date: 04/11/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 214.
    Debussy: La Mer, Nocturnes, Etc / Boulez, Cleveland Orchestra
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 439896 Release Date: 03/21/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Franklin Cohen
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra Chorus
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  • 215.
    Boulez Conducts Webern / Ensemble Intercontemporain
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 437786 Release Date: 03/14/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Anton Webern
    Performer:  Françoise Pollet,  Pierre-Laurent Aimard,  Christiane Oelze
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain,  BBC Singers
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  • 216.
    Berg: Songs / Jessye Norman, Pierre Boulez, London So
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 66826 Release Date: 03/07/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alban Berg
    Performer:  Jessye Norman,  Ann Schein
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
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  • 217.
    Bartok: The Wooden Prince, Etc;  Scriabin / Pierre Boulez
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 64100 Release Date: 01/24/1995   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Alexander Scriabin,  Béla Bartók
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic,  BBC Symphony Orchestra
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  • 218.
    Stravinsky: Petrouchka, Le Sacre Du Printemps / Boulez
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 64109 Release Date: 01/24/1995   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Igor Stravinsky
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic,  Cleveland Orchestra
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  • 219.
    Boulez Conducts Ligeti - Concertos For Cello, Violin, Piano
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 439808 Release Date: 10/11/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  György Ligeti
    Performer:  Saschko Gawriloff,  Pierre-Laurent Aimard,  Jean-Guihen Queyras
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain
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  • 220.
    Debussy - Greatest Hits
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 64065 Release Date: 08/09/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Paul Crossley,  Branford Marsalis,  Philippe Entremont
    Conductor:  Michael Tilson Thomas,  Andrew Litton,  Pierre Boulez,  Eugene Ormandy
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Juilliard String Quartet  ... 
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  • 221.
    Handel - Greatest Hits
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 64066 Release Date: 08/09/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  George Frideric Handel
    Performer:  Edita Gruberova,  Wynton Marsalis,  Albert de Klerk,  Igor Kipnis
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez,  Eugene Ormandy,  Raymond Leppard,  Sir Charles Groves  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic,  Mormon Tabernacle Choir,  Philadelphia Orchestra  ... 
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  • 222.
    Ravel - Greatest Hits
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 64067 Release Date: 08/09/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Branford Marsalis
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez,  Carlo Maria Giulini,  Andrew Litton,  Zubin Mehta  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic,  Camerata Singers,  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra  ... 
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  • 223.
    Ravel: Bolero, Etc / Boulez, Berliner Philharmoniker
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 439859 Release Date: 06/14/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 224.
    Bartok: Concerto for Orchestra, 4 Pieces / Boulez, Chicago SO
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 437826 Release Date: 03/15/1994   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Béla Bartók
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
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  • 225.
    Stravinsky: The Firebird, Fireworks, Etudes / Boulez, Chicago SO
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 437850 Release Date: 11/09/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Igor Stravinsky
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
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