Composer, conductor, and new music advocate Pierre Boulez died yesterday at age 90.
Boulez was instrumental in my introduction to create / avant music 20-25 years ago. Through his connections with Zappa and Edgard Varese, I was introduced to his recordings of many modern composers, as well as his own works and those of other IRCAM composers.
In 1995, I attended the Chicago Symphony Orchestra with Boulez conducting the works of Varese. Boulez began with a verbal introduction to the music of Varese, in which he explained that what were were about to hear was very “different.” In other words, he acknowledged that the audience might find the performance to be challenging, but that we should sit tight and for something both violent and emotional.