Give Now

Pierre Boulez: WFIU’s Featured Contemporary Composer

Pierre Boulez is WFIU's featured contemporary composer for December.

Boulez

Photo: Creative Commons

Pierre Boulez at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels in 2004.

WFIU’s featured composer for December is Pierre Boulez.

Although his father wanted him to become an engineer, Pierre Boulez decided to cultivate his skills in music rather than math when he moved to Paris at age seventeen. At the Paris Conservatoire he attended Olivier Messiaen‘s harmony class, and became a strong supporter of his music.

When Arnold Schoenberg‘s pupil Réné Leibowitz introduced twelve-tone music to the French public, Boulez readily applied to him for instruction in serial techniques. Within a year, his earliest published compositions reflected his work with Leibowitz: tthe flute sonatina Notations and his first piano sonata, Le Visage Nuptial.

Boulez began his career as the musical director of the Compagnie Renaud-Barrault in 1946, where he championed the works of Auric, Poulenc and Honegger, as well as his own compositions. His reputation as a composer was sealed with his debut pieces: the second piano sonata and Le soleil des eaux, for soprano, chorus and orchestra. The latter, which was first given as a cantata in Paris in July 1950, grew out of incidental music Boulez wrote for a radio production broadcast in April 1948. One of his later works, Livre pour quatuor, anticipated the movement toward total serialism of Anton Webern and Messiaen, and the aleatoricism of John Cage.

In the 1950s, Boulez delved further into of conducting, writing, and composing with new media. He experimented with electronic music by setting music to magnetic tape. These experiments resulted in two etudes and his Polyphonie X for 18 soloists.

He also wrote essays on technique and aesthetics, and he established the Domaine Musical Series to showcase music by contemporary composers, with work of an older composer selected to complement each contemporary piece.

Boulez continues to champion the works of modern and postmodern composers through his roles as educator, performer, and writer. In 2002 he was awarded the Glenn Gould Prize for his contributions to contemporary music.

WFIU will feature the music of Pierre Boulez throughout the month of December.

Anna Pranger

Anna Pranger moved to Bloomington in 2009 to pursue a degree in music librarianship. Before this, she worked on a degree in music history at the College-Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati, Ohio. She serves as both an assistant producer for Harmonia and the Music Library Assistant for WFIU.

View all posts by this author »

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from Indiana Public Media Arts & Music:

Support For Indiana Public Media Comes From

Search Arts and Music

Stay Connected

RSS e-mail itunes Facebook Twitter Flickr YouTube

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from Indiana Public Media Arts & Music:

Recent Classical Music Stories

Classical Music Events RSS icon

More Events »Submit Your Event »

Arts & Music is on Twitter

Find Us on Facebook

This Week on Harmonia Early Music

Santa’s Playlist

feat of st nick

Here's a sampling from an array of early music recordings – new and old, from performers like the Tallis Scholars, Boston Camerata, The Sixteen, and more.

Read more »

Harmonia Early Music is a nationally syndicated weekly early music radio program, podcast and blog produced by WFIU Public Radio.

More from Harmonia »