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 26-50 of 68 Available Recordings
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  • 26.
    Ligeti: Atmospheres
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001767302 Release Date: 12/11/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  György Ligeti
    Performer:  Gerd Zacher
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez,  Helmut Franz,  Claudio Abbado
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain,  North German Radio Chorus Hamburg,  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 27.
    Schoenberg: Pierre Lunaire
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001767002 Release Date: 12/11/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Arnold Schoenberg
    Performer:  Florent Boffard,  Jeanne-Marie Conquer,  Jean-Guihen Queyras,  Sophie Cherrier  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble InterContemporain
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  • 28.
    Stravinsky: Le Sacre Du Printemps - 100th Anniversary Collectors Edition [20-CD Set]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001780902 Release Date: 12/11/2012   Number of Discs: 20
    Composer:  Igor Stravinsky
    Performer:  Andrei Gavrilov,  Vladimir Ashkenazy,  Güher Pekinel,  Süher Pekinel  ... 
    Conductor:  Antal Doráti,  Riccardo Chailly,  Pierre Boulez,  Valery Gergiev  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Detroit Symphony Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra,  Kirov Theater Orchestra  ... 
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  • 29.
    Stravinsky: Le Sacre Du Printemps 100th Anniversary - A History [4-CD Set]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: B001780802 Release Date: 12/11/2012   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Igor Stravinsky
    Conductor:  Antal Doráti,  Riccardo Chailly,  Pierre Boulez,  Valery Gergiev  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Detroit Symphony Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra,  Kirov Theater Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $34.99
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  • 30.
    Music In The Air - A History Of Classical Music On Television
    Label: Arthaus Musik   Catalog: 101640 Release Date: 08/28/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Various
    Performer:  Glenn Gould,  Anna Netrebko
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein,  Pierre Boulez,  Herbert von Karajan,  Arturo Toscanini
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  • 31.
    Birtwistle: The Triumph Of Time / Boulez, Davis, Bbc Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble Modern Orchestra
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001708902 Release Date: 07/31/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Harrison Birtwistle
    Performer:  John Harle
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez,  Sir Andrew Davis
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Symphony Orchestra,  Ensemble Modern Orchestra
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  • 32.
    Edgard Varese: Ameriques
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001708202 Release Date: 07/31/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Edgard Varčse
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
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  • 33.
    The Very Best Of Daniel Barenboim
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 21720 Release Date: 07/17/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Georges Bizet,  Frédéric Chopin,  Johannes Brahms,  Gabriel Fauré  ... 
    Performer:  Daniel Barenboim,  Norman Jones,  Anne Pashley,  Don Garrard  ... 
    Conductor:  Daniel Barenboim,  Sir John Barbirolli,  Pierre Boulez
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  • 34.
    Salzburg Festival Opening Concert 2011
    Label: C Major   Catalog: 710908 Release Date: 06/26/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alban Berg,  Gustav Mahler
    Performer:  Dorothea Röschmann,  Anna Prohaska,  Anna Larsson,  Johan Botha
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 35.
    Salzburg Opening Concert 2011
    Label: C Major   Catalog: 711004 Release Date: 06/26/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Alban Berg,  Gustav Mahler
    Performer:  Dorothea Röschmann,  Anna Prohaska,  Anna Larsson,  Johan Botha
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 36.
    Friedrich Cerha: Konzert Fur Schlagzeug Und Orchester; Impulse Fur Orchester
    Label: Kairos   Catalog: 13242 Release Date: 05/08/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Friedrich Cerha
    Performer:  Martin Grubinger
    Conductor:  Peter Eötvös,  Pierre Boulez
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  • 37.
    Messiaen: Orchestral Works / Pierre Boulez, Myung-Whun Chung [10-CD Collector's Edition]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001676602 Release Date: 05/08/2012   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Olivier Messiaen
    Performer:  Françoise Pollet,  Pierre-Laurent Aimard,  Joela Jones,  Catherine Cournot  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez,  Sir Andrew Davis,  Myung-Whun Chung,  Riccardo Chailly  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra members,  BBC Symphony Chorus  ... 
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  • 38.
    Ravel, Debussy / Pierre Boulez [6-CD Set]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001676802 Release Date: 05/08/2012   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Maurice Ravel
    Performer:  Franklin Cohen,  Anne Sofie von Otter,  Lisa Wellbaum,  Alison Hagley  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra Chorus,  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
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  • 39.
    The Claude Debussy Collection
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 193179 Release Date: 05/01/2012   Number of Discs: 18
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Gervase de Peyer,  Ann Murray,  Nathalie Stutzmann,  Leslie Caron  ... 
    Conductor:  Charles Munch,  Pierre Boulez,  Michael Tilson Thomas,  Esa-Pekka Salonen
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Boston Symphony Orchestra,  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra  ... 
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  • 40.
    The Debussy Edition [18-CD Set]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001676372 Release Date: 05/01/2012   Number of Discs: 18
    Composer:  Claude Debussy
    Performer:  Franklin Cohen,  Jean-Rodolphe Kars,  Vera Badings,  Krystian Zimerman  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez,  Sir Alexander Gibson,  Bernard Haitink,  Eduard Van Beinum  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra Chorus,  London Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 41.
    Boulez Conducts Stravinsky
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001660502 Release Date: 04/10/2012   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Igor Stravinsky,  Hugo Wolf
    Performer:  Christopher Hanulik,  Franklin Cohen,  David McGill,  Michael Sachs  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra,  Cleveland Orchestra Chorus  ... 
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  • 42.
    Magnificat - 500 Years Of Choral Masterworks [50-CD Set]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001664502 Release Date: 04/10/2012   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Gregorio Allegri,  Antonio Lotti,  Orlando de Lassus,  Josquin Des Préz  ... 
    Performer:  Patrick Russill,  Marinella Pennicchi,  Michael Chance,  Mark Tucker  ... 
    Conductor:  Harry Christophers,  Paul McCreesh,  Stephen Cleobury,  Edward Wickham  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  The Sixteen,  Gabrieli Consort,  Gabrieli Players  ... 
    CD: $179.99
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  • 43.
    Pierre Boulez Conducts Bartok
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001660402 Release Date: 04/10/2012   Number of Discs: 8
    Composer:  Béla Bartók
    Performer:  Krystian Zimerman,  Leif Ove Andsnes,  Hélčne Grimaud,  Nigel Thomas  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
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  • 44.
    Schoenberg: Pelleas und Melisande / Boulez
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001535502 Release Date: 03/06/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Wagner,  Arnold Schoenberg
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra
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  • 45.
    Liszt: Piano Concertos / Barenboim, Boulez, Staatskapelle Berlin
    Label: Accentus   Catalog: 20239 Release Date: 02/28/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Liszt,  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Daniel Barenboim
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Staatskapelle Orchestra
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  • 46.
    Liszt: Piano Concertos / Barenboim, Boulez, Staatskapelle Berlin [blu-ray]
    Label: Accentus   Catalog: 10239 Release Date: 02/28/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Liszt,  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Daniel Barenboim
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Staatskapelle Orchestra
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  • 47.
    Szymanowski: Violin Concerto No 1, Symphony No 3 / Tetzlaff, Boulez, Vienna PO
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001640902 Release Date: 01/24/2012   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Karol Szymanowski
    Performer:  Christian Tetzlaff
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
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  • 48.
    Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique, Lelio / Pierre Boulez
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 64103 Release Date: 01/03/2012   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz
    Performer:  Jean-Louis Barrault,  John Mitchinson,  John Shirley-Quirk,  Stuart Burrows  ... 
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  London Symphony Chorus,  New York Philharmonic  ... 
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  • 49.
    Mahler: Symphony No 2 / Boulez, Damrau, Lang [blu-ray]
    Label: Euroarts   Catalog: 2054424 Release Date: 11/15/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler
    Performer:  Petra Lang,  Diana Damrau
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Staatskapelle Orchestra
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  • 50.
    Liszt: Concertos / Barenboim, Boulez, Staatskapelle Berlin
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001606802 Release Date: 10/24/2011   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Franz Liszt
    Performer:  Daniel Barenboim
    Conductor:  Pierre Boulez
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Staatskapelle Berlin
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