Pierre Boulez

PIERRE BOULEZ (1925 in Montbrison) studied mathematics and technical disciplines, but in 1943 he became the disciple of Olivier Messiaen, later of Rene Leibowitz and Arthur Honegger. From 1946 he was engaged as a music director of the Theatre of Jean-Louis Barrault, where he organized concerts of the ensemble Domaine Musical. The first performance of his piece Le Marteau sans maître in 1955 at the ISCM Festival in Baden-Baden was the first success of Boulez-composer, confirmed by the London debut of Boulez-conductor with the BBC Symphonic Orchestra. Not only he conducted his own composition Pli selon pli at the Edinburgh festival, but also Berg's Wozzeck in Parisean Opera and in Frankfurt, Debussy's Pelleas et Melisande in the Covent Garden Opera, Wagner's Tristan unci Isolde in Japan, Parsifal and Der Ring des Nibelungen in Bayreuth. He was the principal conductor of this orchestra in 1971 – 1975 and he led also the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in the period 1971 – 1977. From 1976 to 1992 he was the director of IRCAM in Paris and president of the Ensemble InterContemporain. From 1955 Boulez lectured at the Summer Courses in Darmstadt, where he was considered with Karlheinz Stockhausen and Luigi Nono the leader of the serial school. From 1963 he lectured at the Harvard University; he led conductors' courses in Basil etc. Boulez was considered a calm rationalist and dogmatic constructionalist due to his early compositions and many radical combative views against traditional values of the musical life as a whole. Continuously, influenced by the encounter with Cage and his ideas of applying the controlled chance and open form, by Rene Mallarme's poems and recognition of electronic possibilities in elaboration of the sound and spreading of music in space, he evolved not only to acceptation but to demand for music expression. This process was helped by Boulez's career of a conductor and a close connection with living music and its direct effect. In composition as well as in performing art he left a distinct trace in the 20th-century music, produced not only by his provocative artistic activities, but by their genuity, persistance and strenght of persuasiveness. Boulez´s honours include doctorates from the University of Frankfurt (1991) and Connecticut College (1998), the Theodor W. Adorno Prize of the City of Frankfurt (1992), a Grammy in the category of classical contemporary music for Répons (2002), as well as the Israeli Wolf Prize for the Arts (2000). Boulez´s 75th birthday in 2000 was marked with a wide range of concerts featuring his music in major centres, including London, New York, Paris and Vienna. In 2001 Boulez inaugurated the Hungarian Year in France with a series of performances of Bartók´s works, with the participation of Maurizio Pollini, Gil Shaham and Ensemble InterContemporain. He also conducted workshops on his Le Marteau sans maître at New York´s Carnegie Hall. In 2002 he was giving workshops for conductors and concerts with the BBC Symphony, the Berlin Philharmonic and Ensemble InterContemporain.

Works (selection): Le Marteau sans maître for alto solo and 6 instalments (1953 – 1955), 3 piano sonatas (1949 – 1957), Pli selon pli – Portrait de Mallarme for soprano and orchestra (1958 – 1962), Poesiepourpouvoir for mixed choir, chamber orchestra, large orchestra and electronic instruments (1958, new version 1982 – 1983), Figures-Doubles-Prismes for orchestra (1964), Eclat/Multiples for orchestra (1965/...), Eclat for orchestra (1965), Domaines for clarinet and 21 instruments (1968 – 1969), Cummings ist der Dichter for 16 solo voices and instruments (1970), ...exphsante-fixe... for ensemble and live electronics (1972 – 1974), Messagesquisses for cello solo and 6 celli (1976 – 1977), Notations for orchestra (1978/...), Repons for 6 soloists, chamber ensemble, computer sounds and live electronics (1981), Derive for chamber ensemble (1984), Dialogue de I'ombre double for clarinet and tape (1984), Memoriale (...exphsante-fixe... originel) for flute and chamber ensemble (1985), Initial for winds (1987), Explosantefixe (1993), ...explosante-fixe... for flutes (midi), ensemble and live electronics (1991/93), Incises for piano (1994/2001), sur Incises for three pianos, three harps and three percussionists (1996/98), Anthemes 2 for violin and live electronics (1997).

Theoretical studies (selection): Miroirpour Pelléas et Melisande, Moment de Jean-Sébastien Bach.