Pierre Boulez  

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Pierre Boulez (26 March 1925 – 5 January 2016) was a French composer, conductor, prolific writer, and pianist. He was also the founder and former director of the Paris based Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM). He is known for such compositions as Le marteau sans maître (1955).

Electronic music

After the 1960s, during which he had produced little, Boulez began to turn back to the electronic medium and to large extended works. Although unsatisfied with the products of his work with tape in the 1950s (Two Studies, Poésie pour pouvoir), he began to explore the possibilities of live electronic sound manipulation. His first attempt was the 1973 version of ...explosante-fixe.... However, at around this time president Georges Pompidou began to discuss with Boulez the possibility of creating an institute for the exploration and development of modern music where there would be a chance to explore the medium seriously. This was to become IRCAM.

At IRCAM, Boulez created an environment where composers would have at hand the best performers available, and where the most advanced technology and computer scientists would be at their service. Boulez now began to explore the use of electronic sound transformation in real time. Previously, electronic music had to be recorded to tape, which thus 'fixed' it. The temporal aspect of any live music-making in which it played a part had to be coordinated with the tape exactly. Boulez found this impossibly restrictive. Now at IRCAM, he composed Répons, for six soloists, chamber orchestra, and live electronics. With the assistance of Andrew Gerzso, Boulez fashioned a work in which the computer captured the resonance and spatialization of sounds created by the ensemble and processed them in real time.

Selected compositions

  • Piano Sonata No. 1 (1946)
  • Le visage nuptial (soprano, alto, female chorus and orchestra, 1946/51/88–89)
  • Piano Sonata No. 2 (1947–48)
  • Le soleil des eaux (soprano solo, mixed choir, orchestra, 1948/50/58/65)
  • Livre pour quatuor (string quartet, 1948–49, rev. 2011–12)
  • Polyphonie X (1951)
  • Structures, Livres I et II (2 pianos, 1952 and 1961, respectively)
  • Le marteau sans maître (alto, alto flute, guitar, vibraphone, xylorimba, percussion and viola, 1953–55)
  • Piano Sonata No. 3 (1955–57/63 ...) (Unfinished: only two of the five movements have been published in final form.)
  • Pli selon pli (soprano and orchestra, 1957–89)
  • Figures, doubles, prismes (large orchestra, 1957–68)
  • Éclat/Multiples (ensemble, 1965–70)
  • Domaines (clarinet solo, 1968–69)
  • Domaines (clarinet and ensemble, 1968–69)
  • Cummings ist der Dichter (for chorus and ensemble, 1970)
  • Rituel: In Memoriam Bruno Maderna (orchestra, 1974–75)
  • Messagesquisse (seven cellos, 1976–77)
  • Notations (piano version 1945, orchestral version 1978/1999–...)
  • Répons (two pianos, harp, vibraphone, glockenspiel, cimbalom, orchestra and electronics, 1980–84)
  • Dialogue de l'ombre double (for clarinet and electronics, 1982–85)
  • Dérive 1 (for six instruments, 1984)
  • Dérive 2 (for eleven instruments, 1988–2006)
  • ...explosante-fixe... (first version for flute, clarinet and trumpet, 1972; second version for octet and electronics, 1973–74; third version for vibraphone and electronics, 1985; fourth version for MIDI-flute, chamber orchestra and electronics, 1991–93)
  • Sur Incises (3 pianos, 3 harps and 3 percussion parts, 1996–98)
  • Dialogue de l'ombre double (transcribed for bassoon and electronics, 1985/1995)
  • Anthèmes 2 (violin and electronics, 1998)
  • Une page d'éphéméride (piano, 2005)

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