Biography of Pierre Boulez (1925-VVVV)

Composer and conductor French born on March 26, 1925 in the French town of Montbrison.

He completed music studies and mathematics in Saint-Etienne and Lyon. Later moved to Paris, at the Conservatory was student of Andrée Vaurabourg, wife of Honegger, with which he studied counterpoint, Olivier Messiaen (harmony, analysis and composition) and Leibowitz, who initiated him in the twelve-tone writing. In 1945 he obtained the first prize of the Academy on the subject of harmony and the following year he composed his first works: Sonatine for flute and piano, Première Sonate for piano, and the first version of his work Visage Nuptial for soprano, alto and Chamber Orchestra based on texts of the surrealist poet René Char.

In 1946, he was responsible for the musical direction of the Renaud-Barrault company, and between 1953 and 1967 he directed the concerts of the Petit-Marigny, which a year later became known as Conciertos of the Domaine Musical, and were a key piece for the dissemination of French avant-garde music. At that time, Boulez was considered serial posweberniana School Guide.

As a conductor he developed important work, specializing in the music of the composers of the second Vienna school as well as Debussy, Ravel, Stravinsky and Wagner. His career began in the Decade of the fifties to be named director of the Südwestfunk (Southwest German radio orchestra) in Baden-Baden. In 1966 is heard him directing the Wagner Parsifal at Bayreuth and Tristan and Isolde at Japan Festival. Between 1967 and 1972 he moved away from France, in part due to his disagreement with the writer and Minister of culture André Malraux about the role of the State in relation to the arts and cultural life of the country. He lived some time in United States and there was guest conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra, since George Szell had left vacant.

In 1969 he came for the first time in front of the New York Philharmonic, of which he was director from 1971 to 1977 instead of Leonard Bernstein. Also in those years, particularly between 1971 and 1975, the BBC London Symphony Orchestra he directed on several occasions. In 1976 Boulez conducted Wagner tetralogy in Bayreuth on the occasion of the centenary of the creation of the work, which was a staging of Patrice Chéreau.

That same year, after his return to France, President Georges Pompidou appointed you director of the Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM). In 1979 he directed the unabridged version of Alban Berg's Lulu at the Paris opera.

Once started the next decade, in 1982, he received the award Grand Prix Musical de la Ville de Paris. Ten years later an exclusive contract signed with the label Deutsche Grammophon to record several works. On the occasion of his 70th birthday, in 1995, he made a world tour with the London Symphony Orchestra and conducted several concerts in Japan, as well as Moses and Aaron of Schoenberg at the Amsterdam opera.

Boulez has also developed an important pedagogical teaching analysis and direction in the Darmstadt courses between 1955 and 1967; at the University of Harvard in 1962 and 1963, as well as in Basel between 1960 and 1966. It has also participated actively in projects such as the creation of the Cité de la Musique in Paris and the opera Bastille.


Since the beginning of his career, Boulez shared the musical ideas of his teacher Messiaen, who addressed the composition based more on logic than in the expressiveness. The conception of music adopted by Boulez, also due to his mathematical training, entailed the primacy of atonality as well as a great thoroughness in the Organization of the compositional material to achieve what he called "organized delirium". The most fruitful period of his career as a composer took place in the decades of the 1940s and 1950s, since then he has focused mainly in the orchestral direction and management of the IRCAM.

His first two works, the Sonatine and the Sonata for piano No. 1, had a strong influence of the second Vienna school and assumed a fundamental break with the neo-classicism that had been practised in France since the 1920s. The aforementioned Sonatina, despite being an early work, the French composer managed to merge new rhythmic ideas of Stravinsky with the harmonic and structural innovations of Schoenberg and Anton Webern.

In his Sonata No. 1, in addition to evoke the Hammerklavier Sonata of Beethoven , Boulez fragmented content of the work into small particles that are configured in a manner varied throughout the score. In his second piano Sonata, written in 1948 and more extensive appearing above, the melodic content dissolved in a conscious disintegration of old musical forms intent. After the composition of this work Boulez immersed himself fully in the postulates of integral serialism, in which every element of the work - whether melodic, rhythmic and even dynamic or attack-is determined rigidly from the beginning. Result of this were his Livre pour quatuor (1949) and Polyphony X (1951).

But the work that showed its clearest evolution was Structures I, composed for two pianos in 1952. For its creation established a method represented in two numeric tables where contained series of melodies, dynamics and rhythms that were to be used in the piece. In this way, the music was the result of reading the numerical tables that all the features of the work assigned.

Thereafter, Boulez decided to use less stringent methods to produce his works, and even approached with interest to the music of composers so far aesthetically Stockhausen and John Cage, Chief Representative of musical indeterminacy. This relationship with Cage emerged a more intuitive way to deal with the musical language, which saw the light in works such as Le Marteau sans Maître (1954) or in his piano Sonata No. 3 (1957). In Le Marteau sans Maître, for Alto and six instruments, Boulez pays special attention to the timbre and texture of the work and results of great colour and fluidity, with Eastern nuances and even jazz aires. He wrote works such as Pli selon Pli for soprano and Orchestra, which he himself described as a portrait of the writer Mallarmé. Boulez has also made approaches to electronic music in compositions like Repons, which toured United States in 1986.

Links on the Internet; website of the IRCAM (Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique). In English and French.; web page about the figure of Pierre Boulez. In English.; website of the documentation center of the contemporary music of Paris (CDMC). It contains information about various contemporary French composers. In French. ; website of the Paris opera. It includes information on the headquarters of Bastille and Palais Garnier. In French.; website of the Cité de la Musique in Paris.

Selected discography

As a composer

Notations I-XII;... explosante-fixe...; Structures II. Interpreters: Ensemble InterContemporain. DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 445 833-2.-Le Marteau Sans Maître; Notations; Structures II. Interpreters: Ensemble InterContemporain. SONY CLASSICAL MK 42619. Repons; Dialogue De L'ombre Double. Interpreters: Ensemble InterContemporain. DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 457 605-2. Pli Selon Pli; Figures-Doubles-Prismes; Le Visage Nuptial; Cummings Ist Der Dichter; Le Soleil Des Eaux. Performers: BBC Symphony ORchestra. ERATO 4509-98495-2. Rituel ; Éclat / Multiples. Performers: BBC Symphony. SONY CLASSICAL SMK 45839.

As a director

Bartok, B.: Concerto for Orchestra; 4 Pieces for Orchestra op. 12 performers: Chicago Symphony Orchestra. DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 437 826-2. Bartok, B.: Divertimento for String Orchestra; Dance Suite; Hungarian Sketches. Performers: Chicago Symphony Orchestra. DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 445 825-2. Bartok, B.: The Miraculous Mandarin; Music for Strings, Percussion & Celesta. Performers: Chicago Symphony Orchestra. DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 447 747-2. Bartok, B.: Profane Cantata; The Wooden Prince op. 13 performers: Chicago Symphony Orchestra. DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 435 863-2. Bartok, B.: Violin Concerto No. 2; Rhapsodies Nos. 1 & 2. Cast: Gil Shaham, violin. Chicago Symphony Orchestra. DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 459 639-2. Berg, at.: Lulu. Performers: Orchestra of the Opéra de Paris. DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 415 489-2. Debussy, C.: Images pour Orchestre; Printemps; Prélude à l' Après-midi d' d'un faune. Performers: Cleveland Orchestra. DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 435 766-2. Debussy, C. : La Mer; Jeux; Nocturnes; Rhapsodie pour clarinette et orchestre. Performers: Cleveland Orchestra. DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 439 896-2. Ligeti, G. : Chamber Concerto; Ramifications; Aventures; 2nd String Quartet; Lux aeterna. Interpreters: Ensemble InterContemporain / LaSalle Quartet / North German Radio Chorus. DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 423 244-2. Ligeti, G. : Cello Concerto; Violin Concerto; Piano Concerto. Interpreters: Ensemble InterContemporain. DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 439 808-2. Mahler, G.: Symphony No. 4. Performers: Cleveland Symphony Orchestra. DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 463-257-2. Mahler, G. : Symphony No. 5. Performers: Wiener Philharmoniker. DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 453 416-2. Mahler, G. : Symphony No. 6. Performers: Wiener Philharmonilker. DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 445 835-2. Mahler, G. : Symphony No. 7. Performers: Cleveland Symphony Orchestra. DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 447 756-2. Mahler, G. : Symphony No. 9. Performers: Chicago Symphony Orchestra. DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 457 581-2. Messiaen, or. : Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum; Chronochromie; La Ville d' d'en haut. Performers: Cleveland Orchestra. DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 445 827-2. Messiaen, or. : Poèmes pour Mi; Sept haikai no renga; Le réveil des oiseaux. Performers: Cleveland Orchestra. DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 453 478-2. Ravel, M. : Piano Concertos; Noble and sentimental waltzes (Version for Orchestra). Performers: Krystian Zimerman / The Cleveland Orchestra / London Symphony Orchestra. DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 449 213-2. Schoenberg, to. : Moses und Aron. Performers: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 449 174-2. Stravinsky, I. : The Firebird; Fireworks; 4 Etudes. Performers: Chicago Symphony Orchestra. DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 437 850-2. Stravinsky, I.: The Rite of Spring; Petrushka. Cleveland Orchestra. DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 435 769-2. Stravinsky, I.: Symphony of Psalms, Symphony in 3 Movements; Symphonies of Wind Instruments. Performers: Berlin Philharmonic. DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 457-6162. Stravinsky, I.: Concerto for Chamber Orchestra; 8 Miniatures. Interpreters: Ensemble InterContemporain. DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 447-405-2. Webern, at.: Complete Works. Interpreters: Ensemble InterContemporain / Berlin Philharmonic. DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 457 637-2. Webern, to. : Symphony op. 21; Cantatas Nos. 1 & 2; 3 Songs; Das Augenlicht op. 26; Variations op. 30; 5 Pieces for Orchestra. Performers: Berlin Philharmonic. DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON 447 765-2.


BOULEZ, P. Jâlons, Dix ans d'enseignement au Collège de France. Paris, Christian Bourgois éditeur, Paris, 1989.

BOULEZ, P. Le Pays fertile, Paul Klee. Paris, Gallimard, 1989.

BOULEZ, P. Conversations of Pierre Boulez South direction d'Orchestre. Paris, Calmann Lévy, 1989.

BOULEZ, P. La Musique in projet. Paris, Gallimard, 1975.

BOULEZ, P. pair volonté et par hasard, entretiens avec Célestin Deliège. Paris, Seuil, 1975.

BOULEZ, P. Pensez musique aujourd'hui. Paris, Gonthier, 1964.

BOULEZ, P. Points de Repère. Paris, Bourgeois, 1981.

BOULEZ, p. benchmarks (texts compiled and presented by Jean-Jacques Nattiez). Barcelona, Gedisa, 1996.

BOULEZ, P. Relevés d' Assistant. Paris, Seuil, 1967.

FERNÁNDEZ GUERRA, J. Pierre Boulez. Madrid, circle fine, 1985.

GOLEA, A. Rencontres avec Pierre Boulez. Paris, Slatkine, 1958.

JAMEUX, D. Pierre Boulez. Paris, Fayard, 1984.

KOBLYAKOV, L. Pierre Boulez to world of harmony. Chur, Harwood, 1990.

PADILLA, A. dialectic and music: sound space and musical time in the work of Pierre Boulez. Helsinki, Suomen Musiikkitieteellinen Seura, 1995.

PEYSER, J. Boulez: Composer, conductor, enigma. London, Cassell, 1977.

SAMUEL, C. Éclats/Boulez. Paris, Centre Pompidou.