Pierre Boulez

French composer, conductor and teacher (Montbrison, 1925 - Baden Baden 2016)

A prominent personality of music from post-war era to our days, Pierre Boulez was a French composer, conductor and pedagogue. Leading figure of the French avant-garde and sound research, he was also concerned with the outreach of Contemporary music.

A composer of international fame, Pierre Boulez succeeded Leonard Bernstein as chief conductor of the New York Philharmonic, and in 1976, he was invited to Bayreuth to conduct Wagner's Ring cycle, directed by Patrice Chéreau. In addition to his career as a prestigious conductor, Boulez also devoted himself to composing, with very demanding scores, based serial thought, his main concept. Boulez was one of the firsts to focus on acoustic research and worked on the interaction between instruments and machines and in 1977  he founded the Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM), specialising in musical research. His work also revolved around the opposition  between smooth and striated times, as well as the concept of open work, or "work in progress”.

Pierre Boulez was also a music theorist and he happily supported his creations with essays. Sometimes intransigent and highly critical of musical evolution, he was often extreme in his commentaries. Although a controversial figure through his writings, his impact on music remains undeniable, from the creation of the Domaine Musical (1954-1967) - a concert society in which Nono, Stockhausen, Pousseur and Berio gave their first concerts -  to the Lucerne Festival Academy (created in 2004), which brought together several talents around contemporary music; Boulez took part in the outreach of contemporary music.

Pierre Boulez died Tuesday, January 5, 2016 at the age of 90.

6 key dates in the life of Pierre Boulez:

• 1954: Founded the Domaine Musical

• 1975: Founded the Ensemble Intercontemporain

• 1976: Tought at the Collège de France until 1995

• 1977: Creation of the IRCAM (Institut de Recherche et de Coordination Acoustique/Musique)

• 1979: Conducted the first performance of the three-act version of Alban Berg's Lulu at the Paris Opera

• 2016: Died on Tuesday 5th January in Baden-Baden (Germany)

6 key words by Pierre Boulez:

• 1955: The Hammer without a Master

• 1962: Pli selon pli

• 1981-1988: Répons

• 1985: Dialogue de l’ombre double

• 1998: Sur incises

• 2008: Dérive 2