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Pierre Boulez

Born in Montbrison, France in 1925, Pierre Boulez has been an essential, emblematic and influential figure of culture since the Second World War, in a number of capacities: as composer, a conductor, a thinker, as well as a mover and organizer of international musical life. He is a living classic of a composer, whose works have been a source of unfading interest, as well as points of reference, since the 1950s. He first studied mathematics, before moving to Paris in 1942, where two years later he was admitted to the class of Messiaen at the Conservatoire. In 1946 he became the musical director of Renaud-Barrault’s theatre company, and this was when he composed his first pieces. Having come in contact with serialism, he wrote a number of pieces that were deeply influential on compositional thinking in the 1950s (including Structures I-II for two pianos, Le marteau sans maitre for voice and chamber orchestra, and Pli selon pli).

While from the late 1940s his music was a conscious revolt against tradition, his own work came to be trendsetting as time wore on. He founded IRCAM and the Ensemble Intercontemporain, and his activity as a conductor came to encompass not only new music, but more and more the works of Wagner, Mahler and Bruckner. He has educated a host of composers and performers since his time in Darmstadt in the 1950s. He presently holds courses for conductors at the Academy of the Lucerne Festival.