Pierre Boulez (26 March 1925 – 5 January 2016) was a French composer, conductor, prolific writer, and pianist. He was also the founder and former director of the Paris based Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM).
In his early career, Boulez played a key role in the development of integral serialism, controlled chance and electronic music. This, coupled with his highly polemical views on the evolution of music, gained him the image of an enfant terrible.
As a conductor, Boulez was known mainly for his performances of Béla Bartók, Alban Berg, Anton Bruckner, Claude Debussy, Gustav Mahler, Maurice Ravel, Arnold Schoenberg, Igor Stravinsky, Edgar Varèse, Richard Wagner, and Anton Webern. He was awarded a total of 26 Grammy Awards during his career.
Pierre Boulez was a composer and conductor of contemporary and classical music and also an articulate, perceptive and sweeping writer on music. Some articles —notably the notorious «Schoenberg is Dead» (1951)— were deliberately provocative and veered towards polemic. Others dealt with questions of technique and aesthetics in a deeply reflective if sometimes elliptical manner. These writings have mostly been republished under the titles Notes of an Apprenticeship, Orientations: Collected Writings, and Boulez on Music Today, as well as within reprints of the journal of the Darmstadt composers of the time, Die Reihe.
Boulez was also world-famous conductor, having directed most of the world's leading symphony orchestras and ensembles since the late fifties. He served both as Chief Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra from 1971-1975, and Music Director of the New York Philharmonic from 1971-1977. He is currently the Principal Guest Conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Boulez was particularly famed for his polished interpretations of twentieth century classics - Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel, Gustav Mahler, Arnold Schoenberg, Igor Stravinsky, Leoš Janáček, Béla Bartók, Anton Webern and Edgard Varèse - 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 were the hallmarks of his conducting style. He never used a baton, conducting with his hands alone. His nineteenth century repertoire focused upon Ludwig van Beethoven, Hector Berlioz, Robert Schumann and especially Richard Wagner. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply.