Pierre Boulez

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Boulez, Pierre

(pyĕr bo͞olĕz`), 1925–2016, French conductor and composer of modernist classical music. He studied at the Paris Conservatory with Olivier MessiaenMessiaen, Olivier
, 1908–92, French composer and organist, b. Avignon. Messiaen was a pupil of Paul Dukas at the Paris Conservatory. He became organist of La Trinité, Paris, in 1931 and taught at the Schola Cantorum and the École Normale de Musique
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 (1944–45) and studied twelve-tone technique with René Leibowitz (1946). A consistent leader of the avant-garde, Boulez in his early compositions applied the techniques of serial musicserial music,
the body of compositions whose fundamental syntactical reference is a particular ordering (called series or row) of the twelve pitch classes—C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G#, A, A#, B—that constitute the equal-tempered scale.
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 not only to pitch, but also to duration (rhythm), dynamics, and attack. In his later work he moved on from serialism in all its aspects to such approaches, techniques, and forms as improvisation, the exploitation of chance, developing equipment for the electronic manipulation of musical sound, and world music.

Among his compositions are Le Soleil des eaux (1948), for voice and orchestra; Structures, Book 1 and Book 2 (1952, 1961), for two pianos; Le Marteau sans maître (1954), a setting of poems by René CharChar, René
, 1907–88, French poet. His writing reflects both his Provençal origins and his years of active participation in the French resistance. At first attracted to surrealism, Char soon went his own way, constructing a verse marked by extreme stylistic
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 for voice and chamber ensemble, which became a milestone of modern music; Pli selon pli (1957–62) for voice and percussion-rich orchestra, with text from MallarméMallarmé, Stéphane
, 1842–98, French poet. Mallarmé's great importance is as the chief forebear of the symbolists; the influence of his poetry was particularly felt by Valéry.
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; the Piano Sonata No. 3 (1957, unfinished), in which aleatory processes are explored (see aleatory musicaleatory music
[Lat. alea=dice game], music in which elements traditionally determined by the composer are determined either by a process of random selection chosen by the composer or by the exercise of choice by the performer(s).
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); and Éclat (1965), for 15-piece chamber orchestra. His later works include Memoriales (1973–75), Répons (1981–84), for orchestra and electronic sound, Dérive I (1984), and Dérive II (1988). Many of his works after the early 1960s were revisions of earlier compositions.

Early in his career Boulez spent 10 years as director of music for Jean-Louis BarraultBarrault, Jean-Louis
, 1910–94, French actor and director. A pupil of Charles Dullin, he joined the Comédie Française in 1940. After World War II he organized his own company at the Théâtre Marigny with his wife, actress Madeleine Renaud.
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's theater in Paris, and there he founded the Concerts Marigny and the Domaine Musical to present avant-garde works. Making his debut as a concert conductor in 1956, he subsequently conducted orchestras throughout the world and published several books in French. He succeeded Leonard BernsteinBernstein, Leonard
, 1918–90, American composer, conductor, and pianist, b. Lawrence, Mass., grad. Harvard, 1939, and Curtis Institute of Music, 1941. A highly versatile musician, he was the composer of symphonic works (the Jeremiah Symphony, 1944;
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 as music director and conductor (1971–77) of the New York Philharmonic and also was (1971–75) music director of London's BBC Symphony. Returning to Paris, he founded the Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM), part of the BeaubourgBeaubourg
, popular name for the Georges Pompidou National Center for Art and Culture
, museum in Paris, France; the popular name is derived from the district in which it is located.
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, and served as its director from its opening in 1977 until 1991. That year Boulez was appointed composer in residence at the Salzburg Festival.

In the latter part of his life he devoted much time to the development of sophisticated electronic equipment for the production, generation, and modification of musical sound. This work is exemplified by his composition Répons (1981–84), scored for chamber orchestra, instrumental soloists, and electronic devices. He also continued to conduct a modernist repertoire of his own and other 20th- and 21st-century works, leading several orchestras, notably the Ensemble InterContemporain (which he founded in 1976) and the London Symphony Orchestra, into his eighties.


See his Boulez on Music Today (tr. 1971), Relevés d'Apprenti (tr. 1968), and his correspondence with John Cage, ed. by R. Samuels (1993); biography by D. Jameaux (1990); studies by A. Goléa (1958) and P. Griffiths (1978).

Boulez, Pierre


Born March 26, 1925, in Montbrison, department of the Loire. French composer and conductor.

Boulez first studied at the Paris Conservatory in O. Messiaen’s harmony and composition classes and then with R. Leibowitz. He is one of the leaders of modern avant-gardism in music. Between 1954 and 1968 he held annual concerts of modern music (called Domaine Musical) in Paris in which works by A. Schoenberg and A. Webern were performed, as well as works of such modern avant-garde composers as K. Stockhausen and L. Nono. From 1960 to 1963, Boulez taught music analysis at the Basel Academy of Music. The best-known of his works are a piece for contralto and six instruments; The Hammer Without a Master (1955), based on verses by the surrealist poet R. Char, Structures, a piece for two pianos (part one, 1952-56; part two, 1961); and three piano sonatas. He toured the USSR in 1967.


Shneerson, G. Frantsuzskaia muzyka XX veka. Moscow, 1964.
Goléa, A. Rencontres avec P. Boulez. Paris, 1958.
References in periodicals archive ?
Pierre Boulez, "Technology and the Composer," in Orientations: Collected Writings, ed.
Como director de orquesta, Pierre Boulez estuvo al frente de las mas importantes instituciones musicales del mundo como invitado especial, reconocido sobre todo por su invaluable labor con la obra de importantes compositores modernos y contemporaneos como Maurice Ravel, Claude Debussy, el propio Schonberg, Igor Stravinski, Bela Bartok, Anton Webern y Edgar Varese.
The most notable one, a joint IRCAM and Radio France concert under the direction of Pierre Boulez, took place on 10 June 1981.
Artist and Philosopher Pierre Boulez succeeded through the dogged pursuit of change and transgression.
Se nao e senao no repertorio da musica serial, notadamente no corpus das obras de Anton Webern e de Pierre Boulez, em que a barra de compasso--obrigatoria numa tradicao em que a escrita e o lugar de todas as representacoes do fenomeno musical, de todos os acidentes e de todos os dejetos--contraria o destino do vazio, instalando um ritmo, uma batida ao mesmo tempo visual e operacional, suscitando uma repeticao obrigatoria do discurso musical, por mais emancipado e por mais destacado que ele seja temporalmente.
M Coetzee, Orhan Pamuk and Kenzaburo Oe, and more than 130 other eminent personalities, such as Desmond Tutu, Oscar Niemeyer, Alfred Brendel, Yo-Yo Ma, Pierre Boulez, Placido Domingo, William Christie, Zubin Mehta, Simon Rattle, Staatskapelle Berlin, Jean Nouvel, Elliott Erwitt, Peter Brook, Jean-Luc Godard, Umberto Eco, Juergen Habermas, Henning Mankell, Rashid Khalidi, Edouard Glissant, Jorge Semprun, Arundhati Roy, Adonis, Susan Sarandon, Jeanne Moreau, Richard Gere, Meryl Streep, Uma Thurman, Tilda Swinton, Charlie Watts, Wim Wenders, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Haneke, Neil Young, Stephen King and many others.
Celebrated conductors Pierre Boulez and Daniel Barenboim discuss their friendship and the art of managing an orchestra.
00pm) Celebrated conductors Pierre Boulez and Daniel Barenboim discuss their friendship and the art of managing an orchestra.
A host of the award-winning "Martin Perlich Interviews," Perlich had engaged world-class composers, performers and conductors such as Pierre Boulez, Marcel Ophuls, Gore Vidal and John Adams in on-air discussions.
The composer and conductor Pierre Boulez paid tribute to Janacek's works with his ambitious interpretations especially of the Glagolitic Mass and From the House of the Dead.
In 1995, conductor Pierre Boulez led the Cleveland Orchestra in a performance of Claude Debussy's La Mer (DG 439 896-2), a recording that was widely praised at the time for both its performance and its sound quality.
com); directing special projects at MIT and the University of Memphis; running marathons; working with Pierre Boulez and IRCAM and George Lucas at Lucasfilm Ltd.