Pierre Boulez

Pierre Boulez

Overview

Pierre Boulez (born 26 March 1925) is a French composer
Composer
A composer is a person who creates music, either by musical notation or oral tradition, for interpretation and performance, or through direct manipulation of sonic material through electronic media...

 of contemporary classical music
Contemporary classical music
Contemporary classical music can be understood as belonging to the period that started in the mid-1970s with the retreat of modernism. However, the term may also be employed in a broader sense to refer to all post-1945 modern musical forms.-Categorization:...

, a pianist
Pianist
A pianist is a musician who plays the piano. A professional pianist can perform solo pieces, play with an ensemble or orchestra, or accompany one or more singers, solo instrumentalists, or other performers.-Choice of genres:...

, and a conductor
Conducting
Conducting is the art of directing a musical performance by way of visible gestures. The primary duties of the conductor are to unify performers, set the tempo, execute clear preparations and beats, and to listen critically and shape the sound of the ensemble...

.

Boulez was born in Montbrison, Loire
Montbrison, Loire
Montbrison is a commune in the Loire department in central France.The commune gives its name to the popular blue cheese Fourme de Montbrison which has been made in the region for centuries.-History:...

, France. As a child he began piano lessons and demonstrated aptitude in both music
Music
Music is an art form whose medium is sound and silence. Its common elements are pitch , rhythm , dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture...

 and mathematics
Mathematics
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...

. He pursued the latter at Lyon
Lyon
Lyon , is a city in east-central France in the Rhône-Alpes region, situated between Paris and Marseille. Lyon is located at from Paris, from Marseille, from Geneva, from Turin, and from Barcelona. The residents of the city are called Lyonnais....

 before pursuing music at the Paris Conservatoire under Olivier Messiaen
Olivier Messiaen
Olivier Messiaen was a French composer, organist and ornithologist, one of the major composers of the 20th century. His music is rhythmically complex ; harmonically and melodically it is based on modes of limited transposition, which he abstracted from his early compositions and improvisations...

 and the wife of Arthur Honegger
Arthur Honegger
Arthur Honegger was a Swiss composer, who was born in France and lived a large part of his life in Paris. He was a member of Les six. His most frequently performed work is probably the orchestral work Pacific 231, which is interpreted as imitating the sound of a steam locomotive.-Biography:Born...

, Andrée Vaurabourg
Andrée Vaurabourg
Andrée Vaurabourg was a French pianist and teacher. She was the wife of Swiss-French composer Arthur Honegger , whom she met at the Paris Conservatoire in 1916. Honegger married her in 1926 on the condition that they live in separate apartments...

.

Through Messiaen, Boulez discovered twelve-tone technique
Twelve-tone technique
Twelve-tone technique is a method of musical composition devised by Arnold Schoenberg...

 — which he would later study privately with René Leibowitz
René Leibowitz
René Leibowitz was a French composer, conductor, music theorist and teacher born in Warsaw, Poland.-Career:...

 — and went on to write atonal
Atonality
Atonality in its broadest sense describes music that lacks a tonal center, or key. Atonality in this sense usually describes compositions written from about 1908 to the present day where a hierarchy of pitches focusing on a single, central tone is not used, and the notes of the chromatic scale...

 music in a post-Webernian
Anton Webern
Anton Webern was an Austrian composer and conductor. He was a member of the Second Viennese School. As a student and significant follower of Arnold Schoenberg, he became one of the best-known exponents of the twelve-tone technique; in addition, his innovations regarding schematic organization of...

 serial
Serialism
In music, serialism is a method or technique of composition that uses a series of values to manipulate different musical elements. Serialism began primarily with Arnold Schoenberg's twelve-tone technique, though his contemporaries were also working to establish serialism as one example of...

 style.
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Quotations

[A]ny musician who has not experienced - I do not say understood, but truly experienced - the necessity of dodecaphonic music is USELESS. For his whole work is irrelevant to the needs of his epoch.

Emphasis in the original. From "Eventuellement..." (1952), translated as "Possibly..." in Stocktakings from an Apprenticeship, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991, p.113. ISBN 0193112108

Creation exists only in the unforeseen made necessary.

From "Eventuellement..." (1952), translated as "Possibly..." in Stocktakings from an Apprenticeship, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991, p.133 ISBN 0193112108

Stupid, stupid, stupid!

On the music of Giuseppe Verdi|Giuseppe Verdi. Quoted in Boulez: Composer, Conductor, Enigma by Joan Peyser, New York: Schirmer Books, 1976.
Encyclopedia

Pierre Boulez (born 26 March 1925) is a French composer
Composer
A composer is a person who creates music, either by musical notation or oral tradition, for interpretation and performance, or through direct manipulation of sonic material through electronic media...

 of contemporary classical music
Contemporary classical music
Contemporary classical music can be understood as belonging to the period that started in the mid-1970s with the retreat of modernism. However, the term may also be employed in a broader sense to refer to all post-1945 modern musical forms.-Categorization:...

, a pianist
Pianist
A pianist is a musician who plays the piano. A professional pianist can perform solo pieces, play with an ensemble or orchestra, or accompany one or more singers, solo instrumentalists, or other performers.-Choice of genres:...

, and a conductor
Conducting
Conducting is the art of directing a musical performance by way of visible gestures. The primary duties of the conductor are to unify performers, set the tempo, execute clear preparations and beats, and to listen critically and shape the sound of the ensemble...

.

Early years


Boulez was born in Montbrison, Loire
Montbrison, Loire
Montbrison is a commune in the Loire department in central France.The commune gives its name to the popular blue cheese Fourme de Montbrison which has been made in the region for centuries.-History:...

, France. As a child he began piano lessons and demonstrated aptitude in both music
Music
Music is an art form whose medium is sound and silence. Its common elements are pitch , rhythm , dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture...

 and mathematics
Mathematics
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...

. He pursued the latter at Lyon
Lyon
Lyon , is a city in east-central France in the Rhône-Alpes region, situated between Paris and Marseille. Lyon is located at from Paris, from Marseille, from Geneva, from Turin, and from Barcelona. The residents of the city are called Lyonnais....

 before pursuing music at the Paris Conservatoire under Olivier Messiaen
Olivier Messiaen
Olivier Messiaen was a French composer, organist and ornithologist, one of the major composers of the 20th century. His music is rhythmically complex ; harmonically and melodically it is based on modes of limited transposition, which he abstracted from his early compositions and improvisations...

 and the wife of Arthur Honegger
Arthur Honegger
Arthur Honegger was a Swiss composer, who was born in France and lived a large part of his life in Paris. He was a member of Les six. His most frequently performed work is probably the orchestral work Pacific 231, which is interpreted as imitating the sound of a steam locomotive.-Biography:Born...

, Andrée Vaurabourg
Andrée Vaurabourg
Andrée Vaurabourg was a French pianist and teacher. She was the wife of Swiss-French composer Arthur Honegger , whom she met at the Paris Conservatoire in 1916. Honegger married her in 1926 on the condition that they live in separate apartments...

.

Through Messiaen, Boulez discovered twelve-tone technique
Twelve-tone technique
Twelve-tone technique is a method of musical composition devised by Arnold Schoenberg...

 — which he would later study privately with René Leibowitz
René Leibowitz
René Leibowitz was a French composer, conductor, music theorist and teacher born in Warsaw, Poland.-Career:...

 — and went on to write atonal
Atonality
Atonality in its broadest sense describes music that lacks a tonal center, or key. Atonality in this sense usually describes compositions written from about 1908 to the present day where a hierarchy of pitches focusing on a single, central tone is not used, and the notes of the chromatic scale...

 music in a post-Webernian
Anton Webern
Anton Webern was an Austrian composer and conductor. He was a member of the Second Viennese School. As a student and significant follower of Arnold Schoenberg, he became one of the best-known exponents of the twelve-tone technique; in addition, his innovations regarding schematic organization of...

 serial
Serialism
In music, serialism is a method or technique of composition that uses a series of values to manipulate different musical elements. Serialism began primarily with Arnold Schoenberg's twelve-tone technique, though his contemporaries were also working to establish serialism as one example of...

 style. Boulez was initially part of a cadre of early supporters of Leibowitz, but due to an altercation with Leibowitz, their relations turned divisive, as Boulez spent much of his career promoting the music of Messiaen instead.

The first fruits of this were his cantata
Cantata
A cantata is a vocal composition with an instrumental accompaniment, typically in several movements, often involving a choir....

s Le visage nuptial and Le soleil des eaux for female voices
Human voice
The human voice consists of sound made by a human being using the vocal folds for talking, singing, laughing, crying, screaming, etc. Its frequency ranges from about 60 to 7000 Hz. The human voice is specifically that part of human sound production in which the vocal folds are the primary...

 and orchestra
Orchestra
An orchestra is a sizable instrumental ensemble that contains sections of string, brass, woodwind, and percussion instruments. The term orchestra derives from the Greek ορχήστρα, the name for the area in front of an ancient Greek stage reserved for the Greek chorus...

, both composed in the late 1940s and revised several times since, as well as the Second Piano Sonata
Piano sonatas (Boulez)
Pierre Boulez has composed three piano sonatas. The First Piano Sonata in 1946, a Second Piano Sonata in 1948, and a Third Piano Sonata was composed in 1955–57 with further elaborations up to at least 1963, though only two of its movements have been published.-First Piano Sonata:Boulez's First...

of 1948, a well-received 32-minute work that Boulez composed at the age of 23. Thereafter, Boulez was influenced by Messiaen's research to extend twelve-tone technique beyond the realm of pitch
Pitch (music)
Pitch is an auditory perceptual property that allows the ordering of sounds on a frequency-related scale.Pitches are compared as "higher" and "lower" in the sense associated with musical melodies,...

 organization, serialising durations
Rhythm
Rhythm may be generally defined as a "movement marked by the regulated succession of strong and weak elements, or of opposite or different conditions." This general meaning of regular recurrence or pattern in time may be applied to a wide variety of cyclical natural phenomena having a periodicity or...

, dynamics
Dynamics (music)
In music, dynamics normally refers to the volume of a sound or note, but can also refer to every aspect of the execution of a given piece, either stylistic or functional . The term is also applied to the written or printed musical notation used to indicate dynamics...

, mode of attack
Accent (music)
In music, an accent is an emphasis placed on a particular note,either as a result of its context or specifically indicated by an accent mark.Accents contribute to the articulation and prosody of a performance of a musical phrase....

, and so on. This technique became known as integral serialism
Serialism
In music, serialism is a method or technique of composition that uses a series of values to manipulate different musical elements. Serialism began primarily with Arnold Schoenberg's twelve-tone technique, though his contemporaries were also working to establish serialism as one example of...

.

Boulez quickly became one of the philosophical leaders of the post-war movement in the arts towards greater abstraction and experimentation. Many composers of Boulez's generation taught at the Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik
Darmstadt New Music Summer School
Initiated in 1946 by Wolfgang Steinecke, the Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik, Darmstadt , held annually until 1970 and subsequently every two years, encompass both the teaching of composition and interpretation and include premières of new works...

 in Darmstadt
Darmstadt
Darmstadt is a city in the Bundesland of Hesse in Germany, located in the southern part of the Rhine Main Area.The sandy soils in the Darmstadt area, ill-suited for agriculture in times before industrial fertilisation, prevented any larger settlement from developing, until the city became the seat...

, Germany. The so-called Darmstadt School
Darmstadt School
Darmstadt School refers to a loose group of compositional styles created by composers who attended the Darmstadt International Summer Courses for New Music from the early 1950s to the early 1960s.-History:...

 composers were instrumental in creating a style that, for a time, existed as an antidote to music of nationalist fervor; an international, even cosmopolitan style, a style that could not be 'co-opted' as propaganda in the way that the Nazis used, for example, the music of Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, he remains one of the most famous and influential composers of all time.Born in Bonn, then the capital of the Electorate of Cologne and part of...

. Boulez was in contact with many composers who would become influential, including John Cage
John Cage
John Milton Cage Jr. was an American composer, music theorist, writer, philosopher and artist. A pioneer of indeterminacy in music, electroacoustic music, and non-standard use of musical instruments, Cage was one of the leading figures of the post-war avant-garde...

 and Karlheinz Stockhausen
Karlheinz Stockhausen
Karlheinz Stockhausen was a German composer, widely acknowledged by critics as one of the most important but also controversial composers of the 20th and early 21st centuries. Another critic calls him "one of the great visionaries of 20th-century music"...

. Early in his career, he performed as a specialist on the ondes Martenot
Ondes Martenot
The ondes Martenot , also known as the ondium Martenot, Martenot and ondes musicales, is an early electronic musical instrument invented in 1928 by Maurice Martenot. The original design was similar in sound to the theremin...

.

Serialism

"[A]ny musician who has not experienced — I do not say understood, but truly experienced — the necessity of dodecaphonic music is USELESS. For his whole work is irrelevant to the needs of his epoch."
Pierre Boulez ("Eventuellement...", 1952, translated as "Possibly...")

Boulez's totally serialized, punctual
Punctualism
Punctualism is a style of musical composition prevalent in Europe between 1949 and 1955 "whose structures are predominantly effected from tone to tone, without superordinate formal conceptions coming to bear"...

 works consist of Polyphonie X
Polyphonie X
Polyphonie X is a composition by Pierre Boulez for eighteen instruments divided into seven groups, written in 1950–51. It is in three movements.It is one of the first works of Boulez's total serial period...

(1950–51; withdrawn) for 18 instruments, the two musique-concrète Études (1951–52), and Structures, book I
Structures (Boulez)
Structures I and Structures II are two related works for two pianos, composed by the French composer Pierre Boulez....

for two pianos. Structures was also a turning point for Boulez. As one of the most visible totally serialized works, it became a lightning rod for various kinds of criticism. György Ligeti
György Ligeti
György Sándor Ligeti was a composer of contemporary classical music. Born in a Hungarian Jewish family in Transylvania, Romania, he briefly lived in Hungary before becoming an Austrian citizen.-Early life:...

, for example, published an article that examined its patterns of durations, dynamics, pitch, and attack types in great detail, concluding that its "ascetic attitude" is "akin to compulsion neurosis", and that Boulez "had to break away from it... And so he created the sensual feline world of the 'Marteau'".

These criticisms, combined with what Boulez felt was a lack of expressive flexibility in the language, as he outlined in his essay "At the Limit of Fertile Land..." had already led Boulez to refine his compositional language. He loosened the strictness of his total serialism into a more supple and strongly gestural music, and did not publicly reveal much about these techniques, which limited further discussion. His first venture into this new kind of serialism was a work for 12 solo voices titled Oubli signal lapidé (1952), but it was withdrawn after a single performance. Its material was reused in the 1970 composition Cummings ist der Dichter.

Le marteau sans maître


Boulez's strongest achievement in this method is his masterpiece Le marteau sans maître
Le marteau sans maître
Le marteau sans maître is a composition by the French composer Pierre Boulez. It is a setting of the surrealist poetry of René Char for alto and six instrumentalists. It was first performed in 1955.-Movements:...

(The Hammer without a Master) for ensemble and voice, from 1953 to 1957, a "keystone of 20th-century music", and one of the few works of advanced music from the 1950s to remain in the repertoire. Le marteau was a surprising and revolutionary synthesis of many different streams in modern music, as well as seeming to encompass the sound worlds of modern jazz
Jazz
Jazz is a musical style that originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States. It was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions. From its early development until the present, jazz has incorporated music from 19th and 20th...

, the Balinese Gamelan
Gamelan
A gamelan is a musical ensemble from Indonesia, typically from the islands of Bali or Java, featuring a variety of instruments such as metallophones, xylophones, drums and gongs; bamboo flutes, bowed and plucked strings. Vocalists may also be included....

, traditional African musics, and traditional Japanese musics.

Boulez described one of the work's innovations, called "pitch multiplication
Multiplication (music)
The mathematical operations of multiplication have several applications to music. Other than its application to the frequency ratios of intervals , it has been used in other ways for twelve-tone technique, and musical set theory...

", in several articles, most importantly in the chapter "Musical Technique" in Boulez 1971. It was Lev Koblyakov, however, who first described its presence in the three "L'artisanat furieux" movements of Le marteau sans maître, and in his 1981 doctoral thesis. However, an explanation of the processes themselves was not made until 1993. Other techniques used in the "Bourreaux de solitude" cycle were first described by Ulrich Mosch, and later fully elaborated by him.

Experimentation


After Le marteau sans maître, Boulez began to strengthen the position of the music post-WWI modern composers through conducting and advocacy. He also began to consider new avenues in his own work. With Pli selon pli
Pli selon pli
Pli selon pli is a piece of classical music by the French composer Pierre Boulez. It is for solo soprano and orchestra, and is based on the poems of Stéphane Mallarmé...

for orchestra with solo
Solo (music)
In music, a solo is a piece or a section of a piece played or sung by a single performer...

 soprano
Soprano
A soprano is a voice type with a vocal range from approximately middle C to "high A" in choral music, or to "soprano C" or higher in operatic music. In four-part chorale style harmony, the soprano takes the highest part, which usually encompasses the melody...

, he began to work with an idea of improvisation and open-endedness. He considered how the conductor might be able to 'improvise' on vague notations, such as the fermata
Fermata
A fermata is an element of musical notation indicating that the note should be sustained for longer than its note value would indicate...

, and how the players might 'improvise' on irrational durations, such as grace note
Grace note
A grace note is a kind of music notation used to denote several kinds of musical ornaments. When occurring by itself, a single grace note normally indicates the intention of either an appoggiatura or an acciaccatura...

s. In addition, he worked with the idea of leaving the specific ordering of movements or sections of music open to be chosen for a particular night of a performance, an idea related to the polyvalent form of Karlheinz Stockhausen
Karlheinz Stockhausen
Karlheinz Stockhausen was a German composer, widely acknowledged by critics as one of the most important but also controversial composers of the 20th and early 21st centuries. Another critic calls him "one of the great visionaries of 20th-century music"...

. Interestingly, though the two works sound similar today, and certainly represent the same impeccable craft, Pli selon pli was not received as well as Le marteau. This is perhaps more of a cultural barometer than a reflection on the work itself.

During the time that Boulez was testing these new ideas, those colleagues who had never been entirely comfortable with the prominence of a rigorous musical language, such as György Ligeti, had brought a convincing musical counter argument to Boulez's musical ideals. In a poetic twist, Boulez had moved from peerless respect for Le marteau sans maître to seeming defeat with Pli selon pli (Fold upon fold), which sets a Stéphane Mallarmé
Stéphane Mallarmé
Stéphane Mallarmé , whose real name was Étienne Mallarmé, was a French poet and critic. He was a major French symbolist poet, and his work anticipated and inspired several revolutionary artistic schools of the early 20th century, such as Dadaism, Surrealism, and Futurism.-Biography:Stéphane...

 poem about the tripping impotence of a swan, unable to take flight from a frozen lake.

Controlled chance

"Why compose works that have to be re-created every time they are performed? Because definitive, once-and-for-all developments seem no longer appropriate to musical thought as it is today, or to the actual state that we have reached in the evolution of musical technique, which is increasingly concerned with the investigation of a relative world, a permanent 'discovering' rather like the state of 'permanent revolution
Permanent Revolution
Permanent revolution is a term within Marxist theory, established in usage by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels by at least 1850 but which has since become most closely associated with Leon Trotsky. The use of the term by different theorists is not identical...

'."
Pierre Boulez ("Sonate, que me veux-tu?", 1960)

From the 1950s, beginning with the Third Piano Sonata
Piano sonatas (Boulez)
Pierre Boulez has composed three piano sonatas. The First Piano Sonata in 1946, a Second Piano Sonata in 1948, and a Third Piano Sonata was composed in 1955–57 with further elaborations up to at least 1963, though only two of its movements have been published.-First Piano Sonata:Boulez's First...

 (1955–57/63), Boulez experimented with what he called "controlled chance" and he developed his views on aleatoric music
Aleatoric music
Aleatoric music is music in which some element of the composition is left to chance, and/or some primary element of a composed work's realization is left to the determination of its performer...

 in the articles "Aléa" and "Sonate, que me veux-tu?". His use of chance, which he would later employ in compositions like Éclat (1965), Domaines (1961–68) and Rituel in Memoriam Bruno Maderna
Rituel in Memoriam Bruno Maderna
Rituel in memoriam Bruno Maderna is a composition for large chamber ensemble in eight groups by the French composer Pierre Boulez. It was first performed in London, 2 April 1975, by the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Boulez....

(1974–75), is very different from that in the works of, for example, John Cage
John Cage
John Milton Cage Jr. was an American composer, music theorist, writer, philosopher and artist. A pioneer of indeterminacy in music, electroacoustic music, and non-standard use of musical instruments, Cage was one of the leading figures of the post-war avant-garde...

. While in Cage's music the performers are often given the freedom to create completely unforeseen sounds, with the object of removing the composer's intention from the music, in works by Boulez they only get to choose between possibilities that have been written out in detail by the composer—a method that, when applied to the successional order of sections, is often described as "mobile form".

1970s


Boulez's output since the late 1970s has been of a different kind since the early works that brought him to initial prominence. After a rapid succession of explosive works, such as the three cantatas on poetry by René Char, the first two piano sonatas, and other chamber music, compositions have tended to be contemplated and expanded over a long period of time, during which they were performed in various stages of development. ...explosante-fixe..., now resembling a flute
Flute
The flute is a musical instrument of the woodwind family. Unlike woodwind instruments with reeds, a flute is an aerophone or reedless wind instrument that produces its sound from the flow of air across an opening...

 concerto
Concerto
A concerto is a musical work usually composed in three parts or movements, in which one solo instrument is accompanied by an orchestra.The etymology is uncertain, but the word seems to have originated from the conjunction of the two Latin words...

 with electronics
Electronics
Electronics is the branch of science, engineering and technology that deals with electrical circuits involving active electrical components such as vacuum tubes, transistors, diodes and integrated circuits, and associated passive interconnection technologies...

, was first published in 1971 as a sketch in the journal Tempo as a memorial tribute to Stravinsky, then worked out in various versions, including one for mixed octet with electronics performed in 1973. Éclat/Multiples has remained a large fragment, and Dérive II (1988/2002/2006) and Répons (1980/82/84) have been performed in various stages of development.

The desire to expand unrealized possibilities has also led Boulez to create related works in series. His early twelve miniatures for piano, Notations (1945), has, since the 1970s, been in the process of being expanded as an orchestral cycle. To date, at least seven movements have been completed, although only five have been performed. The material contained in Anthèmes
Anthèmes
Anthèmes refers to two related compositions for violin by French composer Pierre Boulez: Anthèmes I and Anthèmes II.Anthèmes I is a short piece for solo violin, commissioned by the 1991 Yehudi Menuhin Violin Competition, and dedicated to Universal Edition's director Alfred Schlee for his 90th...

for solo violin was later expanded into an extended composition for violin and electronics Anthèmes 2 and Boulez is currently developing it further into a large-scale work for violin and orchestra. Incises
Incises (Boulez)
Incises and Sur Incises are two related works of the French composer Pierre Boulez.Incises is Boulez's first work for solo piano since his third piano sonata of 1955–57/63. Originally written in 1994, it has been revised twice, most recently in 2001...

,
a short work for solo piano, has since exploded into Sur Incises for three percussive groups (pianos, harps, percussion) in two very extended movements.

Electronic music


After the 1960s, during which he had produced little, Boulez began to turn back to the electronic medium and to large extended works. Although unsatisfied with the products of his work with tape in the 1950s (Two Studies, Poésie pour pouvoir) he began to explore the possibilities of live electronic sound manipulation. His first attempt was the 1973 version of ...explosant/fixe.... However, at around this time president Georges Pompidou
Georges Pompidou
Georges Jean Raymond Pompidou was a French politician. He was Prime Minister of France from 1962 to 1968, holding the longest tenure in this position, and later President of the French Republic from 1969 until his death in 1974.-Biography:...

 began to discuss with Boulez the possibility of creating an institute for the exploration and development of modern music where there would be a chance to explore the medium seriously. This was to become IRCAM
IRCAM
IRCAM is a European institute for science about music and sound and avant garde electro-acoustical art music. It is situated next to, and is organizationally linked with, the Centre Pompidou in Paris...

.

At IRCAM, Boulez created an environment where composers would have at hand the best performers available, and where the most advanced technology and computer scientists would be at their service. Boulez now began to explore the use of electronic sound transformation in real time. Previously, electronic music had to be recorded to tape, which thus 'fixed' it. The temporal aspect of any live music making in which it played a part had to be coordinated with the tape exactly. Boulez found this impossibly restrictive. Now at IRCAM, he composed Répons
Répons
Répons is a composition by French composer Pierre Boulez for a large chamber orchestra with 6 soloists and live electronics. It was premiered on the 18th of October in 1981 at the Donaueschingen Festival and subsequently expanded until its completion in 1984.Répons was the first significant work to...

, for six soloists, chamber orchestra, and live electronics. With the assistance of Andrew Gerzso Boulez fashioned a work in which the computer captured the resonance
Resonance
In physics, resonance is the tendency of a system to oscillate at a greater amplitude at some frequencies than at others. These are known as the system's resonant frequencies...

 and spatialization
Spatial music
Spatial music, music in space, or space music uses the localization of sounds in physical space as a compositional element in music, in sound art, and in sound editing for audio recordings, film, and video...

 of sounds created by the ensemble and processed them in real time.

Recent years


Today, Boulez continues to be one of the leading exponents of music of the 20th century. His compositions have made a contribution to musical culture, and his advocacy of modern and postmodern music has been decisive for many. Boulez continues to conduct and compose. From 1976 to 1995, Boulez held the Chair in "Invention, technique et langage en musique" at the Collège de France
Collège de France
The Collège de France is a higher education and research establishment located in Paris, France, in the 5th arrondissement, or Latin Quarter, across the street from the historical campus of La Sorbonne at the intersection of Rue Saint-Jacques and Rue des Écoles...

. In 2002, he was awarded the Glenn Gould Prize
Glenn Gould Prize
The Glenn Gould Prize is an international award bestowed by the Glenn Gould Foundation in memory of noted Canadian pianist Glenn Gould. It is awarded every third year to a living individual in recognition of his/her contributions to music and communication....

 for his contributions.

Boulez as a conductor



Boulez is also a conductor
Conducting
Conducting is the art of directing a musical performance by way of visible gestures. The primary duties of the conductor are to unify performers, set the tempo, execute clear preparations and beats, and to listen critically and shape the sound of the ensemble...

, known the world over having directed most of the world's leading symphony orchestras and ensembles since the late fifties. He served concurrently as musical advisor of the Cleveland Orchestra
Cleveland Orchestra
The Cleveland Orchestra is an American orchestra based in Cleveland, Ohio. It is one of the five American orchestras informally referred to as the "Big Five". Founded in 1918, the orchestra plays most of its concerts at Severance Hall...

 from 1970 to 1972, chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra from 1971 to 1975, and music director of the New York Philharmonic
New York Philharmonic
The New York Philharmonic is a symphony orchestra based in New York City in the United States. It is one of the American orchestras commonly referred to as the "Big Five"...

 from 1971 to 1977. He is currently the Conductor Emeritus of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
The Chicago Symphony Orchestra is an American orchestra based in Chicago, Illinois. It is one of the five American orchestras commonly referred to as the "Big Five". Founded in 1891, the Symphony makes its home at Orchestra Hall in Chicago and plays a summer season at the Ravinia Festival...

, after having been its Principal Guest Conductor. The orchestras which he has conducted in recent years include the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics, the London Symphony Orchestra
London Symphony Orchestra
The London Symphony Orchestra is a major orchestra of the United Kingdom, as well as one of the best-known orchestras in the world. Since 1982, the LSO has been based in London's Barbican Centre.-History:...

 (2004 tour), the Orchestre de Paris
Orchestre de Paris
The Orchestre de Paris is a French orchestra based in Paris. The orchestra performs most of its concerts at the Salle Pleyel.-History:In 1967, following the dissolution of the Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire, conductor Charles Munch was called on by the Minister of Culture,...

, the Ensemble InterContemporain
Ensemble InterContemporain
The Ensemble InterContemporain is a French chamber orchestra, based in Paris at the Cité de la musique and IRCAM, which specialises in contemporary classical music....

, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra
Mahler Chamber Orchestra
The Mahler Chamber Orchestra is a professional touring chamber orchestra founded by Claudio Abbado and former members of the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra in 1997....

. In 2005, he began a collaboration with the Staatskapelle Berlin
Staatskapelle Berlin
The Staatskapelle Berlin is a German orchestra, the orchestra of the Berlin State Opera .The orchestra traces its roots to 1570, when Joachim II Hector, Elector of Brandenburg established an orchestra at his court...

.

Boulez is particularly famed for his polished interpretations of twentieth century classics—Alban Berg
Alban Berg
Alban Maria Johannes Berg was an Austrian composer. He was a member of the Second Viennese School with Arnold Schoenberg and Anton Webern, and produced compositions that combined Mahlerian Romanticism with a personal adaptation of Schoenberg's twelve-tone technique.-Early life:Berg was born in...

, Claude Debussy
Claude Debussy
Claude-Achille Debussy was a French composer. Along with Maurice Ravel, he was one of the most prominent figures working within the field of impressionist music, though he himself intensely disliked the term when applied to his compositions...

, Gustav Mahler
Gustav Mahler
Gustav Mahler was a late-Romantic Austrian composer and one of the leading conductors of his generation. He was born in the village of Kalischt, Bohemia, in what was then Austria-Hungary, now Kaliště in the Czech Republic...

, Arnold Schoenberg
Arnold Schoenberg
Arnold Schoenberg was an Austrian composer, associated with the expressionist movement in German poetry and art, and leader of the Second Viennese School...

, Igor Stravinsky
Igor Stravinsky
Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky ; 6 April 1971) was a Russian, later naturalized French, and then naturalized American composer, pianist, and conductor....

, Béla Bartók
Béla Bartók
Béla Viktor János Bartók was a Hungarian composer and pianist. He is considered one of the most important composers of the 20th century and is regarded, along with Liszt, as Hungary's greatest composer...

, Anton Webern
Anton Webern
Anton Webern was an Austrian composer and conductor. He was a member of the Second Viennese School. As a student and significant follower of Arnold Schoenberg, he became one of the best-known exponents of the twelve-tone technique; in addition, his innovations regarding schematic organization of...

 and Edgard Varèse
Edgard Varèse
Edgard Victor Achille Charles Varèse, , whose name was also spelled Edgar Varèse , was an innovative French-born composer who spent the greater part of his career in the United States....

—as well as for numerous performances of contemporary music. Clarity, precision, rhythmic agility and a respect for the composers' intentions as notated in the musical score are the hallmarks of his conducting style. In 1984, he collaborated with Frank Zappa
Frank Zappa
Frank Vincent Zappa was an American composer, singer-songwriter, electric guitarist, record producer and film director. In a career spanning more than 30 years, Zappa wrote rock, jazz, orchestral and musique concrète works. He also directed feature-length films and music videos, and designed...

 and conducted the Ensemble Intercontemporain
Ensemble InterContemporain
The Ensemble InterContemporain is a French chamber orchestra, based in Paris at the Cité de la musique and IRCAM, which specialises in contemporary classical music....

, who performed three of Zappa's pieces. He never uses a baton
Baton (conducting)
A baton is a stick that is used by conductors primarily to exaggerate and enhance the manual and bodily movements associated with directing an ensemble of musicians. They are generally made of a light wood, fiberglass or carbon fiber which is tapered to a grip shaped like a pear, drop, cylinder...

, conducting with his hands alone. His nineteenth century repertoire focuses upon Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, he remains one of the most famous and influential composers of all time.Born in Bonn, then the capital of the Electorate of Cologne and part of...

, Hector Berlioz
Hector Berlioz
Hector Berlioz was a French Romantic composer, best known for his compositions Symphonie fantastique and Grande messe des morts . Berlioz made significant contributions to the modern orchestra with his Treatise on Instrumentation. He specified huge orchestral forces for some of his works; as a...

, Robert Schumann
Robert Schumann
Robert Schumann, sometimes known as Robert Alexander Schumann, was a German composer, aesthete and influential music critic. He is regarded as one of the greatest and most representative composers of the Romantic era....

 and especially Richard Wagner
Richard Wagner
Wilhelm Richard Wagner was a German composer, conductor, theatre director, philosopher, music theorist, poet, essayist and writer primarily known for his operas...

. His recording of Anton Bruckner
Anton Bruckner
Anton Bruckner was an Austrian composer known for his symphonies, masses, and motets. The first are considered emblematic of the final stage of Austro-German Romanticism because of their rich harmonic language, complex polyphony, and considerable length...

's Eighth Symphony
Symphony No. 8 (Bruckner)
Anton Bruckner's Symphony No. 8 in C minor is the last Symphony the composer completed. It exists in two major versions of 1887 and 1890. It was premiered under conductor Hans Richter in 1892 in Vienna...

 has met with considerable critical acclaim. In 1974, he also recorded Maurice Ravel
Maurice Ravel
Joseph-Maurice Ravel was a French composer known especially for his melodies, orchestral and instrumental textures and effects...

's then little-known orchestral version of "Une Barque sur l'océan" from Miroirs
Miroirs
Miroirs, or "Reflections" is a suite for solo piano written by French impressionist composer Maurice Ravel between 1904 and 1905. First performed by Ricardo Viñes in 1906, Miroirs contains five movements, each dedicated to a fellow member of the French impressionist group, Les...

, when there was still no printed score. The score was published only in 1983, and even then only in the first of two slightly different versions Ravel had made.

During his tenure as music director of the New York Philharmonic, he was criticized, even by members of the orchestra, for his concentration on modern repertoire at the expense of works by earlier composers. Nonetheless, Boulez' controversial "Rug" concerts of contemporary music with members of the New York Philharmonic played a significant role in "bridging" the widening gap between the New York downtown music
Downtown music
Downtown music is a subdivision of American music, closely related to experimental music. The scene the term describes began in 1960, when Yoko Ono—one of the Fluxus artists, at that time still seven years away from meeting John Lennon—opened her loft at 112 Chambers Street to be used...

 scene with concerts of "uptown" music, directed primarily at Columbia University by a former classmate at the Paris Conservatoire and a pupil of Leibowitz, Jacques-Louis Monod
Jacques-Louis Monod
Jacques-Louis Monod is an influential French-born, American domiciled composer, pianist and conductor of 20th century and contemporary music.-Paris 1940s: early years under Messiaen and Leibowitz:...

. In his 1981 volume of compilation of reviews from The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

, Facing the Music, critic Harold C. Schonberg
Harold C. Schonberg
Harold Charles Schonberg was an American music critic and journalist, most notably for The New York Times. He was the first music critic to win the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism...

 includes a column in which he details how unhappy some members of the New York Philharmonic orchestra were with Boulez during his tenure.


Boulez has also conducted opera productions and made several recordings of opera. He joined the Bayreuth Festival
Bayreuth Festival
The Bayreuth Festival is a music festival held annually in Bayreuth, Germany, at which performances of operas by the 19th century German composer Richard Wagner are presented...

's roster for 1966's Parsifal
Parsifal
Parsifal is an opera in three acts by Richard Wagner. It is loosely based on Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival, the 13th century epic poem of the Arthurian knight Parzival and his quest for the Holy Grail, and on Chrétien de Troyes' Perceval, the Story of the Grail.Wagner first conceived the work...

, after Hans Knappertsbusch
Hans Knappertsbusch
Hans Knappertsbusch was a German conductor, best known for his performances of the music of Richard Wagner, Anton Bruckner and Richard Strauss....

 died. Subsequently, he was the conductor for the 1976 centenary production of Richard Wagner
Richard Wagner
Wilhelm Richard Wagner was a German composer, conductor, theatre director, philosopher, music theorist, poet, essayist and writer primarily known for his operas...

's Der Ring des Nibelungen
Der Ring des Nibelungen
Der Ring des Nibelungen is a cycle of four epic operas by the German composer Richard Wagner . The works are based loosely on characters from the Norse sagas and the Nibelungenlied...

, directed by Patrice Chéreau
Patrice Chéreau
Patrice Chéreau is a French opera and theatre director, filmmaker, actor, and producer.-Biography:Patrice Chéreau was born in Lézigné, Maine-et-Loire, and went to school in Paris. At a young age he became well-known to Parisian critics as director, actor, and stage manager of his high-school theatre...

, recordings of which were commercially released in audio and video formats. Boulez reunited with Chéreau for a late seventies production of Alban Berg
Alban Berg
Alban Maria Johannes Berg was an Austrian composer. He was a member of the Second Viennese School with Arnold Schoenberg and Anton Webern, and produced compositions that combined Mahlerian Romanticism with a personal adaptation of Schoenberg's twelve-tone technique.-Early life:Berg was born in...

's Lulu
Lulu (opera)
Lulu is an opera by the composer Alban Berg. The libretto was adapted by Berg himself from Frank Wedekind's plays Erdgeist and Die Büchse der Pandora .-Composition history:...

at the Paris Opera
Palais Garnier
The Palais Garnier, , is an elegant 1,979-seat opera house, which was built from 1861 to 1875 for the Paris Opera. It was originally called the Salle des Capucines because of its location on the Boulevard des Capucines in the 9th arrondissement of Paris, but soon became known as the Palais Garnier...

 (the first-ever production of the completed opera) and a 2007 production originating at Vienna's Theater an der Wien
Theater an der Wien
The Theater an der Wien is a historic theatre on the Left Wienzeile in the Mariahilf district of Vienna. Completed in 1801, it has seen the premieres of many celebrated works of theatre, opera, and symphonic music...

, later traveling to Amsterdam, of Leoš Janáček
Leoš Janácek
Leoš Janáček was a Czech composer, musical theorist, folklorist, publicist and teacher. He was inspired by Moravian and all Slavic folk music to create an original, modern musical style. Until 1895 he devoted himself mainly to folkloristic research and his early musical output was influenced by...

's From the House of the Dead
From the House of the Dead
From the House of the Dead is an opera by Leoš Janáček, in three acts. The libretto was translated and adapted by the composer from the novel by Dostoyevsky...

, in what Boulez said was the last opera production that he would ever conduct. In 2004 and 2005, Boulez returned to Bayreuth to conduct a controversial new production of Parsifal directed by Christoph Schlingensief
Christoph Schlingensief
Christoph Maria Schlingensief was a German film and theatre director, actor, artist, and author. Starting as an independent underground filmmaker, Schlingensief later began staging productions for theatres and festivals, which often were accompanied by public controversies...

. Other operas Boulez conducted include Berg's Wozzeck
Wozzeck
Wozzeck is the first opera by the Austrian composer Alban Berg. It was composed between 1914 and 1922 and first performed in 1925. The opera is based on the drama Woyzeck left incomplete by the German playwright Georg Büchner at his death. Berg attended the first production in Vienna of Büchner's...

(Opéra National de Paris), Wagner's Tristan und Isolde
Tristan und Isolde
Tristan und Isolde is an opera, or music drama, in three acts by Richard Wagner to a German libretto by the composer, based largely on the romance by Gottfried von Straßburg. It was composed between 1857 and 1859 and premiered in Munich on 10 June 1865 with Hans von Bülow conducting...

(Bayreuth
Bayreuth Festival
The Bayreuth Festival is a music festival held annually in Bayreuth, Germany, at which performances of operas by the 19th century German composer Richard Wagner are presented...

, Japan tour), Bartók's Bluebeard's Castle
Bluebeard's Castle
Duke Bluebeard's Castle is a one-act opera by Hungarian composer Béla Bartók. The libretto was written by Béla Balázs, a poet and friend of the composer. It is in Hungarian, based on the French fairy tale "Bluebeard" by Charles Perrault...

(Aix-en-Provence Festival
Aix-en-Provence Festival
The festival international d'art lyrique is an annual international music festival which takes place each summer in Aix-en-Provence, principally in the month of July. Devoted mainly to opera, it also includes concerts of orchestral, chamber, vocal and solo instrumental music.-Establishment:The...

, choreographed by Pina Bausch
Pina Bausch
Philippina "Pina" Bausch was a German performer of modern dance, choreographer, dance teacher and ballet director...

, and concert performances), Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande
Pelléas et Mélisande (opera)
Pelléas et Mélisande is an opera in five acts with music by Claude Debussy. The French libretto was adapted from Maurice Maeterlinck's Symbolist play Pelléas et Mélisande...

(productions for Covent Garden
Royal Opera House
The Royal Opera House is an opera house and major performing arts venue in Covent Garden, central London. The large building is often referred to as simply "Covent Garden", after a previous use of the site of the opera house's original construction in 1732. It is the home of The Royal Opera, The...

 and WNO
Welsh National Opera
Welsh National Opera is an opera company founded in Cardiff, Wales in 1943. The WNO tours Wales, the United Kingdom and the rest of the world extensively. Annually, it gives more than 120 performances of eight main stage operas to a combined audience of around 150,000 people...

 and concert performances with the Cleveland Orchestra) and Arnold Schoenberg's Moses und Aron
Moses und Aron
Moses und Aron is a three-act opera by Arnold Schoenberg with the third act unfinished. The German libretto was by the composer after the Book of Exodus.-Compositional history:...

(Amsterdam
De Nederlandse Opera
De Nederlandse Opera , in Amsterdam, is a Dutch opera company based in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Its present home base is the Het Muziektheater, a modern building designed by Cees Dam which opened in 1986....

 and Salzburg
Salzburg Festival
The Salzburg Festival is a prominent festival of music and drama established in 1920. It is held each summer within the Austrian town of Salzburg, the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart...

). On 15 August 2008, he conducted a concert of the music of Leoš Janáček
Leoš Janácek
Leoš Janáček was a Czech composer, musical theorist, folklorist, publicist and teacher. He was inspired by Moravian and all Slavic folk music to create an original, modern musical style. Until 1895 he devoted himself mainly to folkloristic research and his early musical output was influenced by...

 for the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall
Royal Albert Hall
The Royal Albert Hall is a concert hall situated on the northern edge of the South Kensington area, in the City of Westminster, London, England, best known for holding the annual summer Proms concerts since 1941....

, preceded by a discussion of the music with Roger Wright
Roger Wright (music administrator)
Roger Wright is an English radio administrator and arts administrator. He is currently the Controller of BBC Radio 3 and Director of The Proms....

, Director of the Proms, in the Royal College of Music
Royal College of Music
The Royal College of Music is a conservatoire founded by Royal Charter in 1882, located in South Kensington, London, England.-Background:The first director was Sir George Grove and he was followed by Sir Hubert Parry...

. In 2010, Boulez finished recording his 15-year, multi-orchestra Mahler cycle for Deutsche Grammophon
Deutsche Grammophon
Deutsche Grammophon is a German classical record label which was the foundation of the future corporation to be known as PolyGram. It is now part of Universal Music Group since its acquisition and absorption of PolyGram in 1999, and it is also UMG's oldest active label...

 with the Adagio from Mahler's uncompleted Tenth Symphony
Symphony No. 10 (Mahler)
The Symphony No. 10 by Gustav Mahler was written in the summer of 1910, and was his final composition. At the time of Mahler's death the composition was substantially complete in the form of a continuous draft; but not being fully elaborated at every point, and mostly not orchestrated, it was not...

 with the Cleveland Orchestra
Cleveland Orchestra
The Cleveland Orchestra is an American orchestra based in Cleveland, Ohio. It is one of the five American orchestras informally referred to as the "Big Five". Founded in 1918, the orchestra plays most of its concerts at Severance Hall...

. To celebrate Boulez’s 85th birthday Deutsche Grammophon releases his first-ever Karol Szymanowski
Karol Szymanowski
Karol Maciej Szymanowski was a Polish composer and pianist.-Life:Szymanowski was born into a wealthy land-owning Polish gentry family in Tymoszówka, then in the Russian Empire, now in Cherkasy Oblast, Ukraine. He studied music privately with his father before going to Gustav Neuhaus'...

 recording featuring the composer’s popular Violin Concerto no. 1 and Symphony no. 3 “Song of the Night”, with the Wiener Philharmoniker, violinist Christian Tetzlaff
Christian Tetzlaff
-Biography:Tetzlaff was born in Hamburg. He began playing the violin and piano at the age of 6, and made his concert debut at 14 years old. He studied with Uwe-Martin Haiberg at the Musikhochschule Lübeck and with Walter Levine at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.He is...

, tenor Steve Davislim and the Wiener Singverein
Wiener Singverein
The Vienna Singverein is the concert choir of the Vienna Musikverein with around 230 members. It is regularly requested by top orchestras and conductors for large and varied projects.- History :...

.

Boulez as a writer


Boulez is also an articulate, perceptive and sweeping writer on music. He has written on questions of technique and aesthetics
Aesthetics
Aesthetics is a branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of beauty, art, and taste, and with the creation and appreciation of beauty. It is more scientifically defined as the study of sensory or sensori-emotional values, sometimes called judgments of sentiment and taste...

 in a deeply reflective if sometimes elliptical manner. These writings have mostly been republished under the titles Stocktakings from an Apprenticeship, Orientations: Collected Writings, and Boulez on Music Today, as well as in the journal
Academic journal
An academic journal is a peer-reviewed periodical in which scholarship relating to a particular academic discipline is published. Academic journals serve as forums for the introduction and presentation for scrutiny of new research, and the critique of existing research...

 of the Darmstadt composers of the time, Die Reihe
Die Reihe
Die Reihe was a German-language music journal, edited by Herbert Eimert and Karlheinz Stockhausen and published by Universal Edition between 1955 and 1962 . An English edition was published, under the original German title, between 1957 and 1968 by the Theodore Presser Company , in association...

. A third edition of the French texts, with previously uncollected material, has appeared under the title Points de repère I, II, and III.

Two interviews with Pierre Boulez were published in 2007 and 2008.

Awards

  • Ernst von Siemens Music Prize
    Ernst von Siemens Music Prize
    The international Ernst von Siemens Music Prize is an annual music prize given by the Bayerische Akademie der Schönen Künste on behalf of the Ernst von Siemens Musikstiftung , established in 1972. The foundation was established by Ernst von Siemens...

     (1979)
  • Sonning Award (1985) Denmark
    Denmark
    Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

  • Polar Music Prize
    Polar Music Prize
    The Polar Music Prize is a Swedish international music award founded in 1989 by Stig Anderson, possibly best known to be the manager of the Swedish pop group ABBA, with a donation to the Royal Swedish Academy of Music....

     (1996)
  • Wolf Prize (2000) Israel
    Israel
    The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

  • Grawemeyer Award
    Grawemeyer Award
    The Grawemeyer Awards are five awards given annually by the University of Louisville in the state of Kentucky, United States. The prizes are presented to individuals in the fields of education, ideas improving world order, music composition, religion, and psychology...

      (2001) United States for Sur Incises
    Incises (Boulez)
    Incises and Sur Incises are two related works of the French composer Pierre Boulez.Incises is Boulez's first work for solo piano since his third piano sonata of 1955–57/63. Originally written in 1994, it has been revised twice, most recently in 2001...

  • Glenn Gould Prize
    Glenn Gould Prize
    The Glenn Gould Prize is an international award bestowed by the Glenn Gould Foundation in memory of noted Canadian pianist Glenn Gould. It is awarded every third year to a living individual in recognition of his/her contributions to music and communication....

     (2002) Canada
  • Yale University
    Yale University
    Yale University is a private, Ivy League university located in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. Founded in 1701 in the Colony of Connecticut, the university is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States...

    's Sanford Medal.
  • Kyoto Prize
    Kyoto Prize
    The has been awarded annually since 1985 by the Inamori Foundation, founded by Kazuo Inamori. The prize is a Japanese award similar in intent to the Nobel Prize, as it recognizes outstanding works in the fields of philosophy, arts, science and technology...

     (2009) Arts & Philosophy
  • Edison Award (2010) Classical Music

Compositions



  • Piano Sonata No. 1
    Piano sonatas (Boulez)
    Pierre Boulez has composed three piano sonatas. The First Piano Sonata in 1946, a Second Piano Sonata in 1948, and a Third Piano Sonata was composed in 1955–57 with further elaborations up to at least 1963, though only two of its movements have been published.-First Piano Sonata:Boulez's First...

     (1946)
  • Le visage nuptial (soprano
    Soprano
    A soprano is a voice type with a vocal range from approximately middle C to "high A" in choral music, or to "soprano C" or higher in operatic music. In four-part chorale style harmony, the soprano takes the highest part, which usually encompasses the melody...

    , alto, female chorus
    Choir
    A choir, chorale or chorus is a musical ensemble of singers. Choral music, in turn, is the music written specifically for such an ensemble to perform.A body of singers who perform together as a group is called a choir or chorus...

     and orchestra, 1946/51/88–89)
  • Piano Sonata No. 2
    Piano sonatas (Boulez)
    Pierre Boulez has composed three piano sonatas. The First Piano Sonata in 1946, a Second Piano Sonata in 1948, and a Third Piano Sonata was composed in 1955–57 with further elaborations up to at least 1963, though only two of its movements have been published.-First Piano Sonata:Boulez's First...

     (1947–48)
  • Le soleil des eaux (soprano solo, mixed choir, orchestra, 1948/50/58/65)
  • Livre pour quatuor (string quartet, 1948–49)
  • Polyphonie X
    Polyphonie X
    Polyphonie X is a composition by Pierre Boulez for eighteen instruments divided into seven groups, written in 1950–51. It is in three movements.It is one of the first works of Boulez's total serial period...

    (1951)
  • Structures
    Structures (Boulez)
    Structures I and Structures II are two related works for two pianos, composed by the French composer Pierre Boulez....

    , Livres I et II (2 piano
    Piano
    The piano is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It is one of the most popular instruments in the world. Widely used in classical and jazz music for solo performances, ensemble use, chamber music and accompaniment, the piano is also very popular as an aid to composing and rehearsal...

    s, 1952 and 1961, respectively)
  • Le marteau sans maître
    Le marteau sans maître
    Le marteau sans maître is a composition by the French composer Pierre Boulez. It is a setting of the surrealist poetry of René Char for alto and six instrumentalists. It was first performed in 1955.-Movements:...

    (alto, alto flute
    Flute
    The flute is a musical instrument of the woodwind family. Unlike woodwind instruments with reeds, a flute is an aerophone or reedless wind instrument that produces its sound from the flow of air across an opening...

    , guitar
    Guitar
    The guitar is a plucked string instrument, usually played with fingers or a pick. The guitar consists of a body with a rigid neck to which the strings, generally six in number, are attached. Guitars are traditionally constructed of various woods and strung with animal gut or, more recently, with...

    , vibraphone
    Vibraphone
    The vibraphone, sometimes called the vibraharp or simply the vibes, is a musical instrument in the struck idiophone subfamily of the percussion family....

    , xylorimba
    Xylorimba
    The xylorimba is a pitched percussion instrument corresponding to a xylophone with an extended range ....

    , percussion
    Percussion instrument
    A percussion instrument is any object which produces a sound when hit with an implement or when it is shaken, rubbed, scraped, or otherwise acted upon in a way that sets the object into vibration...

     and viola
    Viola
    The viola is a bowed string instrument. It is the middle voice of the violin family, between the violin and the cello.- Form :The viola is similar in material and construction to the violin. A full-size viola's body is between and longer than the body of a full-size violin , with an average...

    , 1953–55)
  • Piano Sonata No. 3
    Piano sonatas (Boulez)
    Pierre Boulez has composed three piano sonatas. The First Piano Sonata in 1946, a Second Piano Sonata in 1948, and a Third Piano Sonata was composed in 1955–57 with further elaborations up to at least 1963, though only two of its movements have been published.-First Piano Sonata:Boulez's First...

     (1955–57/63 ...) (Unfinished: only two of the five movements have been published in final form.)
  • Pli selon pli
    Pli selon pli
    Pli selon pli is a piece of classical music by the French composer Pierre Boulez. It is for solo soprano and orchestra, and is based on the poems of Stéphane Mallarmé...

    (soprano and orchestra, 1957–89)
  • Figures, doubles, prismes (large orchestra, 1957–68)
  • Éclat/Multiples (ensemble, 1965–70)
  • Domaines (clarinet
    Clarinet
    The clarinet is a musical instrument of woodwind type. The name derives from adding the suffix -et to the Italian word clarino , as the first clarinets had a strident tone similar to that of a trumpet. The instrument has an approximately cylindrical bore, and uses a single reed...

     solo, 1968–69)
  • Domaines (clarinet
    Clarinet
    The clarinet is a musical instrument of woodwind type. The name derives from adding the suffix -et to the Italian word clarino , as the first clarinets had a strident tone similar to that of a trumpet. The instrument has an approximately cylindrical bore, and uses a single reed...

     and ensemble, 1968–69)
  • Cummings ist der Dichter (for chorus
    Choir
    A choir, chorale or chorus is a musical ensemble of singers. Choral music, in turn, is the music written specifically for such an ensemble to perform.A body of singers who perform together as a group is called a choir or chorus...

     and ensemble, 1970)
  • Rituel: In Memoriam Bruno Maderna
    Rituel in Memoriam Bruno Maderna
    Rituel in memoriam Bruno Maderna is a composition for large chamber ensemble in eight groups by the French composer Pierre Boulez. It was first performed in London, 2 April 1975, by the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Boulez....

    (orchestra, 1974–75)
  • Messagesquisse (seven cellos, 1976–77)
  • Notations (piano version 1945, orchestral version 1978/1999–...)
  • Répons
    Répons
    Répons is a composition by French composer Pierre Boulez for a large chamber orchestra with 6 soloists and live electronics. It was premiered on the 18th of October in 1981 at the Donaueschingen Festival and subsequently expanded until its completion in 1984.Répons was the first significant work to...

    (two piano
    Piano
    The piano is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It is one of the most popular instruments in the world. Widely used in classical and jazz music for solo performances, ensemble use, chamber music and accompaniment, the piano is also very popular as an aid to composing and rehearsal...

    s, harp
    Harp
    The harp is a multi-stringed instrument which has the plane of its strings positioned perpendicularly to the soundboard. Organologically, it is in the general category of chordophones and has its own sub category . All harps have a neck, resonator and strings...

    , vibraphone, glockenspiel
    Glockenspiel
    A glockenspiel is a percussion instrument composed of a set of tuned keys arranged in the fashion of the keyboard of a piano. In this way, it is similar to the xylophone; however, the xylophone's bars are made of wood, while the glockenspiel's are metal plates or tubes, and making it a metallophone...

    , cimbalom, orchestra and electronics, 1980–84)
  • Dialogue de l'ombre double (for clarinet and electronics, 1982–85)
  • Dérive 1 (for six instruments, 1984)
  • Dérive 2 (for eleven instruments, 1988–2006)
  • ...explosante-fixe... (first version for flute, clarinet and trumpet, 1972; second version for octet and electronics, 1973–74; third version for vibraphone and electronics, 1985; fourth version for MIDI-flute, chamber orchestra and electronics, 1991–93)
  • Sur Incises
    Incises (Boulez)
    Incises and Sur Incises are two related works of the French composer Pierre Boulez.Incises is Boulez's first work for solo piano since his third piano sonata of 1955–57/63. Originally written in 1994, it has been revised twice, most recently in 2001...

    (3 piano
    Piano
    The piano is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It is one of the most popular instruments in the world. Widely used in classical and jazz music for solo performances, ensemble use, chamber music and accompaniment, the piano is also very popular as an aid to composing and rehearsal...

    s, 3 harp
    Harp
    The harp is a multi-stringed instrument which has the plane of its strings positioned perpendicularly to the soundboard. Organologically, it is in the general category of chordophones and has its own sub category . All harps have a neck, resonator and strings...

    s and 3 percussion parts, 1996–98)
  • Dialogue de l'ombre double (transcribed for bassoon and electronics, 1985/1995)
  • Anthèmes
    Anthèmes
    Anthèmes refers to two related compositions for violin by French composer Pierre Boulez: Anthèmes I and Anthèmes II.Anthèmes I is a short piece for solo violin, commissioned by the 1991 Yehudi Menuhin Violin Competition, and dedicated to Universal Edition's director Alfred Schlee for his 90th...

     2 (violin
    Violin
    The violin is a string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest, highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which includes the viola and cello....

     and electronics
    Electronics
    Electronics is the branch of science, engineering and technology that deals with electrical circuits involving active electrical components such as vacuum tubes, transistors, diodes and integrated circuits, and associated passive interconnection technologies...

    , 1998)
  • Une page d’éphéméride (piano, 2005)

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