Pierre Boulez was born in 1925 in Montbrison, France. He first studied mathematics, then music at the Paris Conservatory, 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 Basle. 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.
Makes Bayreuth debut with Parsifal, returning to conduct Wagner’s final work again in 1967, 1968 and 1970.
Named principal guest conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra (until 1972).
In the pit at Covent Garden for a pioneering new production of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande.
Appointed principal conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra (until 1975) and the New York Philharmonic (until 1977); release of his first Deutsche Grammophon recording: Parsifal, from live performances at the 1970 Bayreuth Festival.
Music director of the landmark 100th anniversary production of Wagner’s Ring at Bayreuth; returns to conduct the cycle again at the next four festivals.
From now until his resignation as director in 1992, he devotes himself to the newly created Institut de Recherche et de Coordination Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM) at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and founds the Ensemble Intercontemporain (EIC), which becomes one of the world’s finest contemporary music ensembles.
Signs an exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft.
Conducts Peter Stein’s new staging of Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande with Welsh National Opera on a European tour (released as a video in 1994 and as DVD in 2002 by DG).
Conducts the Berliner Philharmoniker for the first time in almost 30 years; releases include Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra and Four Orchestral Pieces, with the Chicago Symphony.
Appears with the Berliner Philharmoniker at the Berlin Festival in an all-Ravel programme; CD releases: Ligeti Concertos for Cello, Violin and Piano, Boulez conducting the EIC and works by Ravel with the Berliner Philharmoniker.
As “co-founder” of the music centre “Cité de la musique” in Paris, he directs its opening concert with works by Mahler and Rameau; 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; the wealth of new CD releases this year includes numerous prize-winning recordings of works by Debussy, Bartók, and Boulez himself.
Receives the Berlin Arts Prize; CD releases include Bartók with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Mahler with the Cleveland Orchestra and Schoenberg with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.
Conducts Bluebeard’s Castle at Aix-en-Provence in celebration of the festival’s 50th anniversary; the opera is recorded with Jessye Norman, László Polgár and the Chicago Symphony and released on DG; also issued: Schoenberg’s Pierrot lunaire and Boulez’s Répons and Dialogue de l’ombre double, and Ravel’s Piano Concertos with Krystian Zimerman and the Cleveland Orchestra.
“Boulez 2000” – a year of touring with the London Symphony Orchestra and EIC and concerts with the great orchestras of Cleveland and Chicago; CD releases include prize-winning works by Boulez.
CD release of Boulez’s ultimate realization of his Pli selon Pli, with soprano Christine Schäfer and the EIC, and another Boulez masterpiece, the early Le Marteau sans maître, are recorded under his direction.
Easter tour of Japan and concerts in Lucerne with Boulez conducting the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra. Autumn appearances include an all-Janáček programme with the Orchestre de Paris. New on CD: Mahler’s Third Symphony with the Wiener Philharmoniker and Anne Sofie von Otter; also released this year: Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette and Les Nuits d’été with the Cleveland Orchestra.
Apart from numerous concerts all over the globe, Boulez conducts a new production of Parsifal at the Bayreuth Festival. CD releases works by Ravel and Debussy with the Cleveland Orchestra, and, with Ensemble Modern, music by Sir Harrison Birtwistle to celebrate the composer’s 70th birthday.
Deutsche Grammophon celebrates his 80th birthday with a host of major new releases conducted by Boulez: Mahler song cycles with Anne Sofie von Otter, Violeta Urmana, Thomas Quasthoff and the Wiener Philharmoniker; the Bartók Piano Concertos with Krystian Zimerman and the Chicago Symphony, Leif Ove Andsnes and the Berliner Philharmoniker, and Hélène Grimaud and the LSO; his own early masterpiece, Le Marteau sans mâitre, plus Dérives 1 & 2 with the EIC; and the three Piano Sonatas, played by Paavali Jumppanen. His own concerts in the anniversary year feature Boulez with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at London’s Barbican, the LSO at New York’s Carnegie Hall, the Chicago Symphony at Symphony Center and on an extensive European tour, a European tour with the EIC, the Cleveland Orchestra at Severance Hall, as well as appearances at the Lucerne, Vienna and Bayreuth Festivals (Parsifal). His legendary centennial recording of Wagner’s Ring from the 1976 Bayreuth Festival is re-released in June on DVD. Boulez is appointed honorary member of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde Wien, named honorary member of the Wiener Philharmoniker, and honorary conductor of the Staatskapelle Berlin.
Boulez takes a sabbatical leave to devote himself to composition for several months. In April he conducts the Ensemble Intercontemporain in his own compositions at the Printemps des Arts in Monaco and in May he leads the Staatskapelle Berlin in Mahler’s Symphony no. 8 in Berlin. He resumes his intensive conducting activities in June with the Orchestre de Paris and Jessye Norman (Bluebeard’s Castle) and returns to the Aix-en-Provence Festival with Renard (Stravinsky), Tréteaux de Maître Pierre (Falla) and Pierrot lunaire (Schoenberg). Boulez’s traversal of Mahler’s Symphonies continues with the CD release of no. 2, the “Resurrection” (Wiener Philharmoniker) which is planned for May.
Concerts with the Staatskapelle Berlin, Wiener Philharmoniker, Ensemble Intercon¬temporain (including their 30th-anniversary concert in Paris), the Berliner Philhar¬moniker, Orchestre de Paris, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Lucerne Festival Academy Orchestra and the Ensemble Modern. Release of the final recording in his cycle of Mahler’s Symphonies, no. 8 (Record Academy Prize, Tokyo, 2007).
Concerts in the USA with the Chicago and Cleveland orchestras; appearances in Europe with major orchestras including the Ensemble Intercontemporain, London Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris, Wiener Philharmoniker (Salzburg Festival), BBC Symphony Orchestra, and Staatskapelle Berlin. On DVD: Janáček’s From the House of the Dead with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra; completion of his Bartók cycle with the audio release of the concertos for viola (Yuri Bashmet), violin (Gidon Kremer), and for two pianos and percussion (Pierre-Laurent Aimard/Tamara Stefanovich).