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date: 26 January 2021

Boulez, Pierrelocked

  • G.W. Hopkins
  • , revised by Paul Griffiths

Extract

(b Montbrison, Loire, March 26, 1925; d Baden-Baden, January 5, 2016). French composer and conductor. Resolute imagination, force of will, and ruthless combativeness secured him, as a young man, a position at the head of the Parisian musical avant garde. His predecessors, in his view, had not been radical enough; music awaited a combination of Serialism with the rhythmic irregularity opened up by Igor Stravinsky and Olivier Messiaen. This call for a renewed modernism was widely heard and widely followed during the 1950s, but its appeal gradually weakened thereafter, and in the same measure his creativity waned. He began to be more active as a conductor, at first specializing in 20th-century music, but then, in the 1970s, covering a large and general repertory. Towards the end of that decade he turned his attention to an electro-acoustic music studio built for him in Paris, where he hoped to resume the effort to create a new musical language on a rational basis. After a brief hiatus, though, conducting became again his principal means of expressing his independence and clarity of vision....

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