Biography

Pierre Boulez was born in 1925 in Montbrison, France. He first studied mathematics, then music at the Paris Conservatory (CNSM), where his teachers included Olivier Messiaen and René Leibowitz. In 1954, with the support of Jean-Louis Barrault, he founded the Domaine musical in Paris – one of the first concert series dedicated entirely to the performance of modern music – and remained their director until 1967. Boulez began his conducting career in 1958 with the Südwestfunk Orchestra in Baden-Baden, Germany. From 1960 to 1962 he taught composition at the Music Academy in Basel. As a composer, conductor and teacher, Pierre Boulez has made a decisive contribution to the development of music in the 20th century and inspired generations of young musicians with his pioneering spirit. His recordings have earned him a total of 26 Grammys and vast numbers of other prestigious awards.

1966

Bayreuth debut with Parsifal, returning to conduct it again in 1967, 1968 and 1970

1967

Named principal guest conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra (until 1972)

1969

Conducts new production of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande at Covent Garden

1971

Appointed principal conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra (until 1975) and music director of the New York Philharmonic (until 1977); release of his first Deutsche Grammophon recording: Parsifal, from the 1970 Bayreuth Festival

1976

Music director of the 100th-anniversary production of Wagner’s Ring at Bayreuth; returns to conduct the cycle again at the next four festivals

1977

From now until his resignation as director in 1992, he devotes himself to the newly created Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM) at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and founds the Ensemble intercontemporain (EIC)

1989

Signs a recording contract with Deutsche Grammophon which became exclusive in 1992

1995

Co-founder of the music centre Cité de la musique in Paris, he conducts the orchestra of the CNSM and the EIC in its opening concert with works by Mahler and Stravinsky; named principal guest conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; named “Artist of the Year” by Gramophone, and honoured on the occasion of his 70th birthday at the Victoires de la Musique in France

1997

Composition and première of Anthèmes 2 for violon solo and electronics

1999

Composer-in-Residence at Carnegie Hall until 2003

2000

Vast concert series celebrating his 75th birthday; Grammy Award for his work Répons

2001

Boulez’s ultimate realization of his Pli selon pli, with soprano Christine Schäfer and the EIC, and the following year his latest Dérive 2 and early Le Marteau sans maître are recorded under his direction

2003

Tour of Japan and concerts in Lucerne with Boulez conducting the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra; becomes artistic director of the Lucerne Festival Academy

2004

Returns to Bayreuth conducting Parsifal

2005

In his 80th birthday year, amongst other celebrations, Boulez is appointed honorary member of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna, named honorary member of the Vienna Philharmonic, and honorary conductor of the Staatskapelle Berlin

2006

Appointed Conductor emeritus of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

2007

Highly acclaimed staging with Patrice Chéreau of Janácek’s From the House of the Dead

2008

“Grand invité” of the Louvre

2009

Composer-in-Residence at Salzburg’s Mozartwoche; following a concert tour to Chicago, returns to the U.S. in May, performing Mahler’s complete symphonic œuvre with Barenboim at Carnegie Hall; masterclass in conducting and performs Répons at the Lucerne Festival; awarded the Kyoto Prize

2010

85th-birthday-year concerts include the Chicago Symphony, MET and Cleveland orchestras, EIC (in Paris and on European tours), Orchestre de l’Opéra national de Paris, Orchestre de Paris, Vienna Philharmonic (with Carnegie Hall appearance), Berlin Philharmonic, Staatskapelle Berlin and Lucerne Festival Academy Ensemble and Orchestra. To celebrate Boulez’s 85th birthday Deutsche Grammophon releases his first-ever Szymanowski recording featuring the composer’s popular Violin Concerto no. 1 and Symphony no. 3 “Song of the Night”; the Ravel Piano Concertos, with Pierre-Laurent Aimard; and Boulez’s complete Deutsche Grammophon Stravinsky recordings as a 6-CD box-set

2011

Starts with a sabbatical devoted to composition until early summer; conducts and records the Liszt piano concertos with Barenboim, then Mahler’s Das klagende Lied with the Vienna Philharmonic in Salzburg; again directs the Lucerne Festival Academy, before conducting his major work, Pli selon pli, on tour; in November receives the German Giga-Hertz Award for his electronic music

2012

Conducts a Mozart/Schönberg/Stravinsky program with Mitsuko Uchida and the Vienna Philharmonic at the Mozartwochen in Salzburg. Again directing the Lucerne Festival Academy. Receives the Gold Lion at the Venice Biennale and is the first recipient of the newly created Robert-Schumann Prize for poetry and music. Is honored with the Karol Szymanowski Price given by the Karol Szymanowski Foundation and the Gloria Artis Gold Medal of the Polish Ministry of culture.

2013

Recipient of the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award. Continues to direct the Lucerne Festival Academy

2014

Director of the Lucerne Festival Academy

7/2014

Share