Pierre Boulez (1925 – 2016)

Universal Edition mourns the death of Pierre Boulez, one of our great composers and a long-time companion.

Our relationship with Pierre Boulez began on 16.4.1954, when we added his first book of Structures for two pianos to our catalogue. The work had already been premièred on 4.5.1952 in Paris and caught the attention of Alfred Schlee, the then director of Universal Edition.

The first work that Boulez composed as a UE composer was Le Marteau sans maître for alto and six instruments, which he finished on the premises of Universal Edition at Karlsplatz, Vienna. On 18.3.1955, exactly three months before its world première in Baden-Baden, Le Marteau sans maître became a part of the UE repertoire.

Today, the UE-catalogue comprises many of Pierre Boulez’ modern classics:

Notations I-IV (1945, 1978/1984) – for orchestra

Notations VII (1945, 1997/2004) – for orchestra

Le Marteau sans maître (1953, 1955) – for alto and 6 instruments

Pli selon pli (1957-1962) – (Portrait de Mallarmé) for soprano and orchestra

Figures – Doubles – Prismes (1963, 1968) – for orchestra

Éclat (1965) – for 15 instruments

Éclat/Multiples (1970) – for orchestra

Rituel (in memoriam Bruno Maderna) (1974-1975, 1987) – for orchestra in 8 groups

Messagesquisse (1976, 1977) – for violoncello solo and 6 violoncellos

Répons (1981, 1985) – for 6 soloists, ensemble and live electronics

Dérive (1984) – for 6 instruments

Dérive 2 (1988, 2006/2009) – for 11 instruments

sur Incises (1996, 1998/2006) – for 3 pianos, 3 harps and 3 percussionists

... explosante-fixe ... (1991, 1993) – for flute with live electronics, 2 flutes and ensemble

Not only did Pierre Boulez greatly influence the music world after 1945, as a conductor he was responsible for numerous showcase performances of the UE-repertoire.

It is indisputable that his commitment to music has helped Mahler, Schönberg, Berg, Webern, Bartók, Janáček and Szymanowski to become an integral part of today’s international music scene.

Universal Edition

Fiona Maddocks’ best classical music of 2015

The “Total Immersion: Boulez at 90” programme made it into Fiona Maddocks’ best classical music of 2015 article:

Read the full article

Boulez 90th anniversary festival in Utrecht

Insomnio: Boulez 90th anniversary festival

The Insomnio ensemble honours Pierre Boulez, who celebrated his 90th anniversary earlier this year: from 8 until 10 December conductor Ulrich Pöhl leads the musicians of Insomnio in a series of key-works from the 20th century. Additionally master classes, composition workshops and lectures are offered.

Insomnio: Boulez 90th anniversary festivalPierre Boulez: Dérive 2
for 11 instruments | 45'
Pierre Boulez: Répons
for 6 soloists, ensemble and live electronics | 45′
8.12.2015, TivoliVredenburg, Utrecht

Pierre Boulez: Dialogue de l’ombre double
for clarinet and tape | 20'
Pierre Boulez: Anthemès 2
for violin and live electronics | 24'
9.12.2015, TivoliVredenburg, Utrecht

Pierre Boulez: Le Marteau sans maître
for alto and 6 instruments | 35'
Pierre Boulez: sur Incises
for 3 pianos, 3 harps and 3 percussionists | 40'
10.12.2015, TivoliVredenburg, Utrecht

Read the full programme

Alea Sands: a ballet set to Anthèmes II

Laura Hecquet (c) Julien BenhamouIn tribute to Pierre Boulez, this special evening brings together three great moments of musical and choreographic modernity and reunites two other major creative forces of the 20th century whose works Boulez has often conducted: György Ligeti and Igor Stravinsky.

Set to Boulez’ Anthèmes II, British choreographer Wayne McGregor’s ballet Alea Sands will première on 3 December at the Opéra national de Paris and be performed together with Polyphonie and Le Sacre du printemps.

Read more

Listen to a podcast produced by the Opéra national de Paris:

New Dialogues at the National Sawdust

National Sawdust (c) 2015 / Jazz Bank / Pascal Gallois.

None of the dreams we indulged as adolescents at Oberlin would have even entered our minds without the intrepidity and the audacity of Pierre Boulez. […] In the words of Boulez himself, “Music is a labyrinth with no beginning and no end, full of new paths to discover, where mystery remains eternal.” (Claire Chase & Joshua Rubin, ICE co-artistic directors)

Pascal Gallois (c) Pascal GalloisHonouring Pierre Boulez’ 90th birthday, conductor and bassoonist Pascal Gallois and the International Contemporary Ensemble present their Boulez 90 – New Dialogues programme at the National Sawdust – a new performance venue for contemporary music in Brooklyn – on 17, 18, 19 and 21 November. A selection of Boulez’ oeuvre will be performed alongside works of his contemporaries and those of young composers.

ICE is performing together with bassoonist Pascal Gallois on this project that was recently on tour in Paris and Brittany in France. A highlight of the concert series will be performances of Le Marteau sans maître with mezzosoprano Katalin Károlyi and Éclat.

Download the full programme

“a revelation”: A Day for Boulez in Lucerne

Pierre Boulez (c) Universal EditionThe fully orchestrated versions, composed towards the end of the century, were laid bare by the presentation of the original piano pieces of 1945, written when he was just 20. It was a revelation. (Jonathan McAloon, The Telegraph, 24 August 2015)

Jonathan McAloon has recently reviewed A Day for Pierre Boulez for The Telegraph. The concert was held on Sunday, 23 August, at the Lucerne Festival.

Read the full review

TerraceTalk with Barenboim, Rabl-Stadler, Wiegand and Schaufler

TerraceTalk with Daniel Barenboim, Helga Rabl-Stadler, Florian Wiegand and Wolfgang Schaufler

On 12 August, the Salzburg Festival presented a TerraceTalk with Daniel Barenboim, Helga Rabl-Stadler, Florian Wiegand and Wolfgang Schaufler.

Boulez is often perceived only as a structuralist, says Wolfgang Schaufler, a representative of Universal Edition. “Many don’t see the emotional side of the music, of course, since his music is new,” says Daniel Barenboim. “We cannot see all aspects of it yet.” Boulez himself has often discussed various elements of his music, but has said very little about emotionality, because that seems a matter of course to him. Everyone has different emotions when hearing the same piece. “Boulez has managed to feel with his head and think with his heart,” says Daniel Barenboim.

Read more on the website of the Salzburg Festival.

Aimard and Stefanovich at Musik 21

Musik 21

The Musik 21 Festival “Klang-Körper” kicks off today, 10 July, and will go on until Sunday.

Prominent guests of the festival will be pianists Tamara Stefanovich and Pierre-Laurent Aimard, who will be performing a selection of Pierre Boulez’ piano pieces, including Structures, Deuxième Livre for 2 pianos.

Watch an interview with Pierre-Laurent Aimard on Pierre Boulez:

The New Yorker reviews the Ojai Music Festival


Ojai Music Festival


Songbirds softened the severities of Boulez’s Improvisations sur Mallarmé, as if Messiaen, Boulez’s bird-loving teacher, were providing commentary.

Alex Ross has reviewed The Ojai Music Festival for The New Yorker.

Read the full text online

Day of the Giants in Johannesburg

Pierre Boulez (c) Universal Edition, Eric Marinitsch

Join Jill Richards and Waldo Alexander in their celebrations of the 90th birthday of Pierre Boulez: the “Day of the Giants” – an informal, informative and interactive day of fun and music – takes place on 28 June from 11:00 until 17:00 at the Goethe-Institut in Johannesburg.

On the programme: Boulez’ Anthèmes (with live electronics), Domaines, Deuxième Sonate as well as John Cage’s 4′33″ and four new compositions in response to the works of Pierre Boulez.

Find the full programme on the Facebook event page.


A “revelatory performance” of Répons

Matthias Pintscher (c) Frank FervilleThe music is crystalline in its sheer beauty and in the mysterious network of quasi-neural connections that Boulez creates between every sound and moment in the piece. But Répons also has an awesome, torrential energy, in the streams of surreally fast music that careen throughout the ensemble, and in the collective, multi-dimensional sonic spectacular that the collective acoustic and electronic ensemble can create. (Tom Service, The Guardian, 12 June 2015)

A clearly impressed Tom Service has reviewed the Matthias Pintscher’s and the Ensemble Intercontemporain’s recent performance of Répons for The Guardian.

Read the full review

Ojai Music Festival features A Pierre Dream

Ojai Music Festival features A Pierre Dream

The 69th Ojai Music Festival opens today, 10 June, and kicks off with the special pre-festival west coast première of A Pierre Dream: A Portrait of Pierre Boulez.

You can find the full programme of the festival on the website of the Ojai Festival.

Beyond the score in Amsterdam

Beyond the Score: A Portrait of Pierre Boulez will be performed on 2 June by Asko | Schönberg and the Slagwerk Den Haag at the Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ.

The show was conceived by Gerard McBurney as part of Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s acclaimed Beyond the Score series, keypieces from the Boulez’ oeuvre will be performed live together with the showing of rare archival footage and new interviews with the composer and conductor.

Eötvös conducts Boulez

Péter Eötvös, Pierre Boulez (c) Priska Ketterer

Once, only Boulez himself could have achieved such a performance: fortunately he clearly now has successors who are equal to the task. (Gavin Dixon, bachtrack, 24 April 2015)

Péter Eötvös and the London Symphony Orchestra dedicated a concert to Pierre Boulez on 23 April at the Barbican in which they performed Rituel in memoriam Bruno Maderna and other works.

Read Gavin Dixon’s full review on bachtrack.

A master class in conducting

Watch the Lucerne Festival’s video of Pierre Boulez in a master class in conducting with Jeffrey Means, Gregory Charette, Fergus Macleod and Pablo Rus Broseta, filmed at the Kultur- und Kongresszentrum in Lucerne:

The Enfant Terrible of Modern Music

ensemble intercontemporain (c) Luc Hossepied

If people complain of its atonality and difficulty, they should think of music from other cultures, which can sound equally alien and provide unequivocal evidence for tonal systems being the result of cultural conditioning. In this way, Boulez’s music can be seen as a universal music, rooted in the equally universal language of mathematics. (Emiel de Lange, Felix Online, 5.4.2015)

In a recent article on Felix Online Emiel de Lange explores the music of Pierre Boulez. You can find the full article here.

The festivities for Boulez’ 90th birthday are far from over: On 23 April, Peter Eötvös conducts the London Symphony Orchestra in a concert dedicated to Boulez, on 28 April a birthday salute by ensemble intercontemporain and Matthias Pintscher takes place. Read more about the concerts by clicking the respective links.

Pierre Boulez – 20th Century

Pierre Boulez: Deutsche GrammophonWhen Boulez turned 90 on March 26, he did so as perhaps the world’s most complete musician, and without doubt one of its very greatest conductors. The old stereotype has been almost perfectly inverted: Boulez is now lionized not only for his mastery of modern and contemporary works, but for the ability to elicit fresh sonic and structural details in works stretching back to the 19th century.

David Weininger on the Deutsche Grammophon’s 44-CD set “Pierre Boulez – 20th Century” – find the full review on The Boston Globe.

Pierre Boulez, newspapersBoulez in the news

A small selection of today's Austrian and German newspapers:

Sein kompositorisches Schaffen ist überschaubar, seine Wirkungsmacht kaum zu überschätzen: Pierre Boulez ist eine der einflussreichsten Musikerpersönlichkeiten unserer Zeit, Galionsfigur der Avantgarde, gesuchter Dirigent, Revoluzzer und Bewahrer in einem. (Die Presse, Wilhelm Sinkovicz, 26.03.2015)

Als Stardirigent war er, der mittlerweile aus gesundheitlichen Gründen passiv bleiben muss, eine Art trojanisches Pferd, das Tradition pflegte, um die Moderne elegant in den Betrieb zu schleusen. (Der Standard, Ljubiša Tošić, 26.03.2015)

Wenn man den scheuen, in sich zurückgezogenen Boulez über Jahre hinweg aus relativer Nähe erlebt hat wie ich, vermittelt sich der Eindruck eines Mannes, der sich immer wieder selbst aufzog wie eine Uhr, um zu Höchstleistungen zu gelangen. (Die Zeit, Felix Schmidt, 26.03.2015)

Aber das Wichtigste scheint mir doch zu sein, dass bei der Beschreibung der Musik von Boulez immer nur das eine erwähnt wird, nämlich die Distanz, das Kalkül, die Organisation – ohne die Voraussetzung dafür als ebenso wichtig zu benennen: die Magie des Klanges selbst, seine unverwechselbare Beschaffenheit, seine Aura, ja, das Moment der Inspiration. (FAZ, Eleonore Büning, 26.03.2015)

UE congratulates Pierre Boulez

The relationship between Pierre Boulez and Universal Edition, which has been publishing his music since 1953, can only be described as serendipitous. Boulez has endowed the UE catalogue with many of his masterpieces and conquered new terrain with his use of electronics. Boulez is a pioneer whose roots are firmly embedded in tradition, including the one which UE publishes.

As a conductor, his unflagging commitment to the Vienna School has affirmed its place in the repertoire.

His esteemed and exemplary performances of music by Mahler, Bartók, Janáček, Szymanowski, Berio and many other UE composers crowns the good fortune of our collaboration.

Universal Edition congratulates Pierre Boulez on his 90th birthday.

Pierre Boulez at 90 on Flipboard

Jonathan from UE has made a Flipboard magazine for Pierre Boulez at 90 – you can flip through it here:

View my Flipboard Magazine.

In praise of Pierre Boulez at 90

Pierre Boulez (c) Universal Edition, Alfred Schlee

“Ultimately I think Boulez is a great optimist, despite the shadows that coloured his early years. In the end what he believes is simple: today’s music has to be different from the music of the past.

That’s a natural thing. Western music continues to evolve and transform and change. And those that don’t agree, well … they’re wrong!” (George Benjamin, The Guardian, 20.03.2015)

In his article “In praise of Pierre Boulez at 90” composer George Benjamin salutes Pierre Boulez. Find the full article on The Guardian.

Other recent articles that you might like:

Musicians discuss the influence of Pierre Boulez

Pierre Boulez at 90: reviews from the archive

Total Immersion: Boulez at 90, Barbican Hall, review

Tombeau at the Barbican


Tombeau will be performed together with 11 other works by Boulez from the UE catalogue on 21 March during the Total Immersion: Pierre Boulez at 90 festivities at the Barbican.

Find the full programme here.

Pierre Boulez at 90 Study Day

On Friday 20th March, the Institute of Music research and the Institute of Modern Languages Research are hosting a Study Day in Chancellor’s Hall, Senate House, University of London to celebrate the 90th birthday of Pierre Boulez.

The study day examines his work from the perspective of scholars in Music, French and Cultural Studies.

Admission is free

The Study Day is promoted in association with the BBC Symphony Orchestra’s Total Immersion: Pierre Boulez festival on Saturday 21 March.

View the full programme


If you would like to hear some of Boulez’s works, the links to the concerts are:

Saturday 21 March: BBC Symphony Orchestra
Thursday 23 April: London Symphony Orchestra
Tuesday 28 April: Ensemble Intercontemporain

Pierre Boulez, Philharmonie de Paris

Bruno Serrou reviews the Boulez exhibition

Organized on the occasion of Pierre Boulez’s ninetieth birthday, this exhibition puts the multiple aspects of his work, his thought and the encounters that have marked his career into perspective. Its chronological unfolding is punctuated by a selection of major works by the composer, alternating with the undertakings that shaped his singular trajectory. (Philharmonie de Paris)

Find a French in-depth review of the exhibition Pierre Boulez of the Philharmonie de Paris on Bruno Serrou’s blog.

Pierre Boulez exhibition

Pierre Boulez and Friedrich Cerha (c) Universal Edition, Jonathan Irons The exhibition Pierre Boulez of the Philharmonie de Paris opens today, 17 March, at the Musée de la Musique and will be running until 28 June 2015.

Furthermore, on 19 and 20 March a week-end Pierre Boulez takes place at the Philharmonie de Paris, presenting three choreographies by the Béjart Ballet Lausanne – set to compositions by Webern, Bartók and Boulez – which will alternate with works by Friedrich Cerha and Grisey.

Introducing the MusikSalon – dedicated to Pierre Boulez



Pierre Boulez celebrates his 90th birthday on 26 March. As a composer and conductor he is already an historic figure, not just for Universal Edition. His work has changed the world of music. This first edition of the MusikSalon, in which Boulez’ contemporaries and colleagues give us their thoughts, is dedicated to him.

Read the MusikSalon online

“Boulez à facettes”

France musique: Pierre Boulez

Today, 16 March, France Musique celebrates Pierre Boulez. Find the full programme on France musique.

Make sure to visit France Musique’s multimedia web portrait on Boulez at Boulez à facettes.

Aimard and Stefanovich play Boulez

Aimard, Stefanovich, Harrison Parrott

“Parsing Boulez's complexity requires steady guidance, and they are two of the best at offering that.” (Dan Ruccia, Indy Week, 11.03.2015)

Find Dan Ruccia’s preview of Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Tamara Stefanovich performing the music of Boulez on Indy Week.

Their tour started on 8 March at Cornell University, further performances take place at the University of California, Berkeley (12 March), Chicago Symphony Center (15 March), Carnegie Hall (16 March) and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (18 March). Find out more on Harrison Parrott.

Also, we highly recommend that you check out Explore the Score: Pierre Boulez: Douze Notations, a project that Stefanovich recently launched together with the Ruhr Piano Festival:

Explore the Score: Pierre Boulez: Douze Notations

"A Day for Pierre Boulez should be one of the essential classical musical experiences of the summer”

Boulez (c) Universal Edition, Alfred Schlee

Tom Service of The Guardian has reviewed this year’s programme of the Lucerne Festival in Summer, which will be running from 14 August until 13 September.

Lucerne is where Boulez has arguably contributed the most to the future of new music in recent years, in his coaching and commissioning of composers, his tutelage of conductors, and above all his performances of the music he knows and loves the best with groups of astonishingly talented young musicians (like the revelatory concert of his own Pli Selon Pli that he conducted at the Royal Festival Hall in London in 2011).

Read the full article on The Guardian.

Before and After Boulez

Pierre Boulez (c) Eric Marinitsch

Pierre Boulez’ Rituel in memoriam Bruno Maderna will be performed together with the Australian première of Georges Lentz’ Jerusalem (after Blake) and Debussy’s La Mer on 18 February as part of the Sydney Opera House's Pierre Boulez Composer Weekend. David Robertson conducts the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

MusikSalon: A tribute to Pierre Boulez




We’ve interviewed conductors Pablo Heras-Casado, Daniel Barenboim and Sir Simon Rattle, pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Hervé Boutry of the ensemble intercontemporain and Michael Haefliger of the Lucerne Festival for the first issue of our new digital music magazine MusikSalon, which will be dedicated to Pierre Boulez’ 90th birthday.

Watch the trailer:

Awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award

Watch Pli selon pli at the Philharmonie de Paris

Watch yesterday’s performance of Pierre Boulez’ Pli selon pli and Edgard Varèse’s Amériques at the Philharmonie de Paris on ARTE. The concert was presented by Matthias Pintscher, soprano Marisol Montalvo, the ensemble intercontemporain and the Orchestre du Conservatoire de Paris.

The video will be online until 3 Juli 2015.

Pablo Heras-Casado on Pierre Boulez

Pablo Heras-Casado (c) Universal Edition, Wolfgang Schaufler

We recently met conductor Pablo Heras-Casado in Salzburg to talk about the influence that his mentor Pierre Boulez had on him.

The full interview will be published in mid-March in the very first issue of our MusikSalon, which will be dedicated exclusively to Pierre Boulez.

Boulez / Varèse

Boulez/Varèse: ensemble intercontemporain“Fold by fold” – this is the English translation of the French title; the text was written by Stéphane Mallarmé – is a milestone in recent music history: in this work, Mallarmé – the revolutionary innovator of French poetry – meets Pierre Boulez, whose treatment of the text and instruments reveals him to be just as much a revolutionary innovator of music. Pli selon pli is therefore not just a “Portrait de Mallarmé”, but also one of Pierre Boulez. (Bálint András Varga)

On 3 February Matthias Pintscher, soprano Marisol Montalvo, the ensemble intercontemporain and the Orchestre du Conservatoire de Paris present an evening with Pierre Boulez’ Pli selon pli and Edgard Varèse’s Amériques at the Philharmonie de Paris.

Find out more on the website of the Philharmonie de Paris.

A New Festival for New Music

Taka Kigawa (c) Kenji Mori

The Wall Street Journal has published a review of the New Music Gathering 2015 in San Francisco. A highlight of the festival: “the powerhouse pianist Taka Kigawa, who was on hand to play all of Pierre Boulez’s piano music—three Sonatas, the Notations and a few smaller works, 90-minutes of densely abstract music, all told—in one sitting, with no intermission, and from memory.”

Read the full review on the Wall Street Journal.

Boulez at the Aldeburgh Festival 2015

Aldeburgh Festival 2015

The full Aldeburgh Festival 2015 programme has been announced earlier this week.

On the programme: a Pierre Boulez at 90 feature that includes the UK première of the multimedia performance A Pierre Dream: A Portrait of Pierre Boulez, a lecture by Will Gompertz on the composer and performances of Mémoriale | ( ... explosante-fixe ... Originel) and the Piano Sonata No. 3.

Find the full programme on the website of the Aldeburgh Festival 2015.

“That's what you do for someone you love”

Pierre Boulez, The Cleveland Orchestra: 90th Birthday Salute

That the orchestra accomplished so much in a single weekend […] is astonishing. Then again, it also makes perfect sense. That's what you do for someone you love. (Zachary Lewis, cleveland.com, 17.01.2015)

Each [of the five Notations] still seems as musically inevitable as the 1945 piano pieces did. Conductor and orchestra gave committed performances that surely would have pleased the French master. (Timothy Robson, bachtrack, 18.01.2015)

Find the full reviews of Franz Welser-Möst’s and the Cleveland Orchestra’s tribute concert to Pierre Boulez on 15 January by cleveland.com and bachtrack by clicking the respective links.

Pierre Boulez 90th Birthday Salute

On 15 January, the Cleveland Orchestra presents a special musical celebration to salute Pierre Boulez’ 90th birthday, featuring his own music and works he has led to acclaim in performances with the orchestra.

Joela Jones’ performance of 12 Notations will be followed by Notations I-IV and VII. Franz Welser-Möst conducts the Cleveland Orchestra.

Watch the Cleveland Orchestra’s 90th birthday celebration concert preview on YouTube:

Get the score of 12 Notations

Boulez to receive a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award

Congratulations Pierre Boulez!

The Recording Academy has announced its Special Merit Awards: among this year’s honorees is Pierre Boulez.

A special invitation-only ceremony will be held during Grammy Week on Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015, and a formal acknowledgment will be made during the 57th Annual Grammy Awards.

Pierre Boulez (c) Universal Edition, Eric Marinitsch


Teresa Stratas to receive Opera News Award

Opera News has announced that Teresa Stratas will be among five recipients of the tenth annual Opera News Awards. Congratulations!

To the right: Teresa Stratas in the première of Boulez’ and Chéreau’s production of Lulu (in Friedrich Cerha’s orchestration).

Teresa Stratas

"A revolution in program making": Boulez as conductor

Pierre Boulez (c) Lucerne Festival

Though an example of the trend, this set is rare for its coherent approach to making music: clear, expository and revelatory, treating older and contemporary music with equal weight. For once and for all, it should counter Mr. Boulez’s reputation for dryly intellectual, emotionless conducting, the work of a composer-conductor trying objectively to reveal structure at the expense of everything else.

David Allen of The New York Times has recently reviewed “Pierre Boulez: The Complete Columbia Album Collection”, a box set containing 67 CDs. Read the full article on The New York Times.

Boulez in Ojai

Ojai Music Festival

After highly acclaimed performances of A Pierre Dream: A Portrait of Pierre Boulez (Pablo Heras-Casado conducted the CSO), the west coast première of A Pierre Dream will be performed at next year’s Ojai Festival by mezzo-soprano Peabody Southwell and the International Contemporary Ensemble (cond. Steven Schick).

Find out more on the programme of the Oija Music Festival.

Watch the trailer of A Pierre Dream:

Pablo Heras-Casado and Boulez

The CSO honours Boulez

Beyond the Score (c) Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Honouring the upcoming 90th birthday of CSO Helen Regenstein Conductor Emeritus Pierre Boulez, the CSO will play “the musical maverick’s” first work for full orchestra alone, Figures – Doubles – Prismes, on 12-15 November.

Furthermore, Gerard McBurney’s A Pierre Dream, a “phantasmagorical acoustic and theatrical journey through a lifetime of musical adventures, innovations and discoveries”, will be performed. The programme will include excerpts fromIncises, Dérive, une page d'éphéméride, Anthèmes, Messagesquisse, Improvisation on Mallarmé, Notations, ...explosante-fixe..., Memoriale, Domaines, Dialogue de l'ombre double, Le marteau sans maître, Structures and Sonatine.

Find out more on the website of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Gerard McBurney on “A Pierre Dream”

Yejin Gil plays Incises

Yejin Gil (c) Adam Berry

On 4 November Yejin Gil, artist in residence at the Impuls Festival für Neue Musik in Sachsen-Anhalt, performed a solo recital, presenting pieces by Pierre Boulez, Unsuk Chin, György Ligeti and Olivier Messiaen.

Yejin Gil (c) Adam BerryEarlier in the year, Andrew Clements of The Guardian reviewed Yejin Gil’s debut disc, which features Pierre Boulez’ Incises:

All the seeds of that iridescent score [of sur Incises] can be heard in the piano piece, wonderfully articulated by Gil; the torrents of repeated notes in its opening section are fabulously even, the writhing, decaying chords that arrive later are perfectly weighted.” (Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 5.3.2014)

Barenboim honours Boulez

Last Saturday and Sunday Daniel Barenboim and the Wiener Philharmoniker honoured Pierre Boulez with performances of Originel, Mémoriale (... explosante-fixe ... Originel) and Livre pour cordes.

Find [German] reviews on Der Standard and the Wiener Zeitung.

Daniel Barenboim at the Musikverein Wien (c) Alkan

Pierre Boulez on his Notations

How long did it take you to compose the Notations? What was your initial impulse? What influenced you when you wrote the orchestration?

Find the answers to these questions and more in the video below. The video also features excerpts from Taka Kigawa’s concert performance Complete Solo Piano Works of Pierre Boulez.

The Telegraph’s Classical Music Guide: Boulez’ Dérive 1

Pierre Boulez (c) Peter Fischli, Lucerne Festival

Strike a gong, and the sound burgeons outwards, but even as it swells, the sound is already dying. So it is with Boulez’s music.

The TelegraphIvan Hewett of The Telegraph writes about Dérive 1 for 6 instruments in his Classical Music Guide. The piece will be performed by Variable Geometry on 10 October at the Royal College of Music in London.

Other pieces mentioned: Notations II for piano (“In December 1945, when he wrote this piece, Boulez was the archetypal angry young man”), Notations II for orchestra (“The angry 20-second shout becomes a hectic two-minute dance”) and Improvisation 1 sur Mallarmé: Le vierge, le vivace et le bel aujourd’hui (“Boulez’s later version for big orchestra is fascinating, but it’s just too luxuriantly beautiful”).

Find the full article on The Telegraph.

Pierre Boulez: Dérive 1
for 6 Instruments
fl, cl(A), vib, pno, vln, vc
10.10.2013, Royal College of Music, London; Variable Geometry, cond. Jean-Philippe Calvin

Taka Kigawa honours Pierre Boulez

Taka Kigawa (c) Taka Kigawa
The highly acclaimed pianist Taka Kigawa honoured composer and conductor Pierre Boulez with a solo piano recital of the composer’s works12 Notations, Première Sonate, Troisième Sonate (including Sigle), Incises and une page d’éphéméride on 17 April at the Center for New Music in San Francisco, and, a week later, on 24 April at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires.

From the Center for New Music’s programme:

“Pierre Boulez’s piano pieces have been Taka Kigawa’s specialty program. He has performed those pieces in public numerous times worldwide, and has received lots of acclaim from both critics and audiences alike. The New York Times hailed him, as ‘It was music of Mr. Boulez that spurred him to greater intensity and spontaneity. Mr. Kigawa’s feat deserves the highest praise, especially since it was combined with such alacrity and sensitivity to the musical material’ and ‘Mr. Kigawa recast the (Boulez’s) sonata as an essay in how to apply suppleness to virtuosity, and the result was an energetic but also characterful account.’ And Pierre Boulez himself highly praised Kigawa’s playing his works as ‘I was very much impressed by the brilliant way he performed them. He was precise, and at the same time inventive.’ […] Also this year Kigawa will be touring with the Pierre Boulez Complete Solo Piano Music program in Buenos Aires, Argentina in late April, in New York City in August, and in Japan in November.”

Tom Service: Matthias Pintscher on Boulez’ Pli selon pli

Pli selon pli is definitely one of Pierre's most directly emotional works. The final movement, Tombeau, ends with the word 'mort' ('death') and then there's this huge crescendo in the ensemble. It leaves you completely emotionally torn, asking questions - what condition are we in? How do we go forward? We are so shaken by it, and now it's our turn to move on, or to try to. It's overwhelming.

Here is an interview in which Tom Service talks to 42-year-old composer and conductor Matthias Pintscher about Pierre Boulez’ Pli selon pli.

Read the full article on The Guardian.

Tom Service

Boulez’ Pierrot lunaire reissued on CD

tl_files/News_Bilder/Blog/2014/boulez_pierrot_wergo_230.jpgArnold Schönberg’s Pierrot lunaire, conducted by Pierre Boulez with Helga Pilarczyk as Sprechstimme, was the first ever long-playing record to be released on the German label WERGO, which was founded in 1962.

This historic recording – a highlight of the label’s early catalogue – has recently been reissued on CD, together with an 80-page booklet.

Find out more on the website of WERGO.

Boulez on Boulez

In December 2010 Pierre Boulez spoke to Universal Edition about his own music:

Mr. Boulez, for just a brief moment, at the beginning of the 1950s, it seemed that serial methods were asking to be extended across every element of composition. This represented the thrilling possibility that a new musical system might be found, but there was also the anxiety that music’s creation would become as automated as heavy industry – allowing masterpieces to be made without a master, merely by the hammer of technology. But this sort of total organisation proved to be impossible – luckily so, one might say. It was shortly after this discussion that you composed Le Marteau sans maître, which was premièred exactly 55 years ago here in Baden-Baden. Thinking back to when you began working on this composition: did you want to use Le Marteau to demonstrate that spontaneity and system can indeed coexist?

Boulez: The fact is that when I composed the structures beforehand, I was totally responsible for that – because I wanted the composer to be anonymous. The composer was just a transmitter and nothing else. But very early on, I became aware of the fact that this was entirely impossible. It is possible in some cases, only some extreme cases, but not always; you cannot base a composition on that idea. But I did not want to go back to the twelve-tone system, because I found the twelve-tone system impossible as a way of constraining the available possibilities. So therefore, I began to develop a system in which freedom was possible, and I conquered my own freedom not only regarding the twelve-tone system, but also with regard to the general possibility of composing purely with a system. And therefore, Le marteau – even from the vantage point of 50 years later – was for me a beginning of sorts … the beginning of a conquest, of freedom.

Read the full interview.

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