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
Browse 226-250 of 254 Available Recordings
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  • 226.
    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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  • 227.
    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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  • 228.
    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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  • 229.
    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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  • 230.
    The Spanish Harpsichord / Igor Kipnis
    Label: Sony Classical Essential Classics   Catalog: 53264 Release Date: 10/19/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Antonio Soler,  Manuel de Falla,  Manuel Blasco de Nebra,  Domenico Scarlatti
    Performer:  Igor Kipnis,  Lorne Munroe,  Eliot Chapo,  Stanley Drucker  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
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  • 231.
    Pierre Boulez Edition - Schoenberg: Moses Und Aron, Etc
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 48456 Release Date: 07/13/1993   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Arnold Schoenberg
    Performer:  Richard Angas,  Günter Reich,  Felicity Palmer,  Gillian Knight  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain,  Orpheus Boys' Choir,  BBC Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 232.
    Schoenberg: Gurre-Lieder, 4 Songs / Boulez, BBC Symphony
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 48459 Release Date: 07/13/1993   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Arnold Schoenberg
    Performer:  Yvonne Minton,  Günter Reich,  Siegmund Nimsgern,  Marita Napier  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra,  Goldsmiths' Choral Union,  BBC Choral Society  ... 
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  • 233.
    Schoenberg: Pierrot Lunaire, Etc / Pierre Boulez
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 48466 Release Date: 07/13/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Arnold Schoenberg
    Performer:  Janis Martin,  Jessye Norman,  Daniel Barenboim,  Michel Debost  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra,  Ensemble InterContemporain members
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  • 234.
    Schoenberg: Serenade, 5 Pieces, Ode / Pierre Boulez
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 48463 Release Date: 07/13/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Arnold Schoenberg
    Performer:  Alain Neveux,  Gérard Caussé,  Philippe Müller,  Jacques Ghestem  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain members,  BBC Symphony Orchestra
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  • 235.
    Schoenberg: Suite, Verklarte Nacht, Etc / Pierre Boulez
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 48465 Release Date: 07/13/1993   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Arnold Schoenberg
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain
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  • 236.
    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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  • 237.
    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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  • 238.
    Bartók: The Wooden Prince, Etc / Boulez, Chicago So
    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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  • 239.
    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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  • 240.
    Wagner: Parsifal / Boulez, King, Jones, Crass, Ridderbusch
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 435718 Release Date: 05/04/1992   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Franz Crass,  James King,  Donald McIntyre,  Dame Gwyneth Jones  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bayreuth Festival Chorus,  Bayreuth Festival Orchestra
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  • 241.
    Berio: Sinfonia, Eindrücke / Boulez, New Swingle Singers
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 45228 Release Date: 04/28/1992   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Luciano Berio
    Performer:  Régis Pasquier
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Swingle Singers,  ORTF National Orchestra
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  • 242.
    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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  • 243.
    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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  • 244.
    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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  • 245.
    Stravinsky: Firebird Suite, Etc / Pierre Boulez
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 45843 Release Date: 12/13/1991   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Igor Stravinsky
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain,  New York Philharmonic,  BBC Symphony Orchestra
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  • 246.
    Gershwin, Ravel: Piano Concertos / Entremont, Ormandy, Boulez
    Label: Sony Classical Essential Classics   Catalog: 46338 Release Date: 04/05/1991   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Maurice Ravel,  George Gershwin
    Performer:  Philippe Entremont
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez,  Eugene Ormandy
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra,  Philadelphia Orchestra
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  • 247.
    Berio: Corale, Chemins 2 & 4, Etc / Pierre Boulez
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 45862 Release Date: 02/08/1991   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Luciano Berio
    Performer:  Laszlo Hadady,  Jean Sulem,  Pierre Strauch,  Pierre-Laurent Aimard  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain
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  • 248.
    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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  • 249.
    Boulez: Rituel, Eclat, Multiples / Boulez, Bbc So
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 45839 Release Date: 01/14/1991   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Pierre Boulez
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain,  BBC Symphony Orchestra
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  • 250.
    Pierre Boulez Edition- Varese: Ionisation, Ameriques, Etc
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 45844 Release Date: 01/14/1991   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Edgard Varčse
    Performer:  Rachel Yakar,  Lawrence Beauregard
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain,  New York Philharmonic,  New York Philharmonic members
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