For Pierre Boulez, It’s Still About the Music

From NYTimes.com:

IN a maroon turtleneck and loose-fitting gray suit, eyes on his score, Pierre Boulez took turns one late August morning here rehearsing the soloists for “Répons.” Written in 1981 for six soloists, chamber orchestra and live electronics, it is the first major work he wrote using the electronic-music institute in Paris, Ircam. But it has rarely been performed, just a few dozen times.

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The lion in winter still roars but more quietly

Pierre Boulez, a friend of Górecki during the ...
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From chicagotribune.com, a profile of Pierre Boulez and his upcoming events.

On March 26, the French composer and conductor, one of the most distinguished figures in contemporary music, will turn 85. The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, with which Boulez has enjoyed an exceptionally cordial relationship that goes back four decades, is celebrating that milestone with a series of concerts and discussions throughout the month that will bring audiences closer to Boulez’s music, as well as give them the chance to hear him conduct new pieces along with classics of the 20th century with which he has long been identified.

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Ensemble Intercontemporain – Past Meets Present With Ligeti’s Blurred Colors and Frenetic Rhythms

Pierre Boulez in 2004
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A recent Ensemble Intercontemporain performance is reviewed.

For decades, it was hard to think of the Ensemble Intercontemporain, a brilliant French chamber orchestra formed in 1976, without factoring in the composer and conductor Pierre Boulez, who founded the group.

Mr. Boulez asserted, not incorrectly, that to advance his rigorous Modernist aesthetic, he needed a band capable of rendering the music of Schoenberg, Webern and their followers with the same clarity and conviction that a conventional group might pour into Mozart and Beethoven.

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Sound Sculptures Recording Available for Free

Pierre Boulez in 2004
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From UbuWeb:

Published by Wergo in 1985, Sound Sculptures is a gorgeous, state-of-the-art overview of Austria and West Germany’s instrument builders and sculptors curated by composer and music critic Klaus Hinrich Stahmer. A German equivalent to Bart Hopkins’ Experimental Musical Instruments compilation CDs, though the concept here being that composers/interprets will use someone else’s sculpture or sound construction to create their soundwork. The title’s double-entendre is perfectly maintained throughout the album: sound producing actual sculptures and soundcrafting as an artform. Particularly striking is the variety of sonorities emited, from angklung-like metallophones to interactive electronic sensors, from industrial bleak soundscapes to subtle microtonal nuances, from improvised free music to drone-a-thon. This is rather un-classifiable music only occasionaly sounding like Stockhausen or Boulez solo percussion pieces.

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CSO’s MusicNOW series gets another boost

Pierre Boulez in 2004
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Pierre Boulez garners praise in Chicago.

Pierre Boulez is a shot in the arm for both the players on the stage and the large audience in the house. Despite the efforts of MusicNOW principal conductor Cliff Colnot, programming of the series under current CSO composers-in-residence Osvaldo Golijov and Mark-Anthony Turnage has not always been the most challenging, sometimes even veering into new-music easy listening.

Just as he does at Orchestra Hall with the big band, Boulez, who turns 84 this month, reminds us that serious need not be morose. Far from it. The concert he curated and led Monday night, featuring an essential 1975 score by Elliott Carter and recent works by French and German Boulez proteges, showed that rigor, discipline and edginess captivate much more than endless loops and post-modern noodling.

Despite his name and ancestry, Bruno Montovani, 34, is French to the core, and his 2005, 15-minute “Streets” for 10 players is a brilliant update on Edgard Varese’s pioneering works inspired by sounds of the big city. Tightly wound and carefully composed, Montovani’s music is rhythmically propulsive and laced with surprising turns.

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Louvre opens galleries to Pierre Boulez

Pierre Boulez
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From AFP:

For the first time in its history, the Louvre museum Thursday opens its doors to a musician, France’s renowned contemporary composer and conductor, Pierre Boulez, giving the classical arthouse a modern touch.

To the French, the 83-year-old supremo of serial, experimental and electronic music born in the central Loire valley is what the Japanese call “a living national treasure”, celebrated for his unique contribution to music and to intellectual life since the 1950s.

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