Pierre Boulez

Composer, Conductor, Enigma

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• Four-disc box set presentation is an anthology of Pierre Boulez’s early compositions; complex, radically new and quite ferociously uncompromising.

• Such fearless, notoriously demanding works as the second ‘Piano Sonata’ may be heard alongside the gorgeous ultra-modernist exoticism of ‘Le Marteau sans maître’ and ‘Pli selon pli’.

• These breathtakingly ambitious works are complemented by the first recordings of Boulez as conductor, made at the Domaine musical, a society he formed in Paris during the mid- ‘50s to provide a platform both for modernist pieces by the likes of Webern, Messiaen and Stockhausen and works which had played a vital role in the evolution of music by such composers as Debussy and Bartok.

As a conductor Boulez flew high and fast, engaged as Music Director of the New York Philharmonic and as chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra by William Glock, Controller of Music at the corporation, and fervent new music enthusiast: “Boulez’s ear was fabulous. It was as though he was attached by a hundred strings to every member of the orchestra.”

“Pierre Boulez was arguably the single dominant figure of the classical musical world through the second half of the 20th century and beyond. Without his compositions, his legacy of recordings as a conductor, his writings on music and his administrative skill and drive, the musical scene today would be of a quite different order.” Roger Nichols

“Boulez exemplified the ethos of his generation. Cool, brutal, elegant, fiery, he established a kind of International Style in music, and propagated it in polemical writings and through institutional networks. As a conductor, he was an exacting, absorbing interpreter of the advanced styles he favoured.” Alex Ross: The Magus – Pierre Boulez’s Fiery Career.

Frank Zappa of The Mothers Of Invention bought his first Boulez album in twelfth grade. He is listed as an influence on the cover of ‘Freak Out!’ (1966) under the heading “These People Have Contributed Materially In Many Ways To Make Our Music What It Is. Please Do Not Hold It Against Them.”



1 Sonatine for Flute and Piano, Op. 1 (1946; revised 1949) Severino Gazzelloni: flute; David Tudor: piano
Piano Sonata No.
2 (1948) Yvonne Loriod: piano
2 Extrêmement rapide (extremely fast) 3 Lent (slow)
4 Modéré, presque vif (moderate, almost lively)
5 Vif (lively)

Polyphonie X for Ensemble (1950–51); withdrawn.
6 Modéré
7 Lent
8 Vif
Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Hans Rosbaud

Polyphonie X for Ensemble (1950–51); withdrawn.
9 Polyphonie X (Part 1)
Symphony Orchestra of the RAI (Radiotelevisione italiana) Conductor: Bruno Maderna

Deux études de musique concréte For Magnetic Tape (1951-2)
10 Étude 1 Sur un son
11 Étude 2 Sur un accord de sept sons


Le Soleil des eaux (The Sun and the Waters) for Soprano, Chorus and Orchestra (1948; revised 1950; revised 1958; revised 1965); text: two poems by René Char
1 Complainte du lézard amoureux
2 La Sorgue (Chanson pour Yvonne)
Irène Joachim: soprano; Joseph Peyron: tenor; Pierre Mollet: baritone. RTF National Orchestra Conductor: Roger Désormière

Structures Book 1 for Two Pianos (1951–52)
3 ​Premier mouvement
4 Deuxième mouvement
5 Troisième mouvement
Aloys Kontarsky, Alfons Kontarsky: pianos

Le Marteau sans maître for Alto Voice and Six Instruments (1953–55; revised 1957)
6 Avant “l’Artisanat furieux”
7 Commentaire I de “Bourreaux de solitude”
8 “L’Artisanat furieux”
9 Commentaire II de “Bourreaux de solitude”
10 “Bel édifice et les pressentiments”, double
11 “Bourreaux de solitude”
12 Après “L’Artisanat furieux”
13 Commentaire III de “Bourreaux de solitude”
14 Bel édifice et les pressentiments – Double
Marie-Thérèse Cahn: contralto. Solistes du Domaine Musical. Conductor: Pierre Boulez
15 La Symphonie mécanique musique concrète, for a film by Jean Mitry (1955)
16 Poésie pour pouvoir (Poems for Power), for Orchestra and Tape,
(from the Poem by Henri Michaux) (1955/58); withdrawn
Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra. Conductors: Hans Rosbaud, Pierre Boulez.
Michel Bouquet: voice


Pli selon pli (Fold by Fold), for Soprano and Orchestra
(1957–58, as Improvisations sur Mallarmé I and II; completed 1959–62; revised 1983; revised 1989)
1 Pli selon pli: No. 2, Improvisation I sur Mallarmé
2 Pli selon pli: No. 3, Improvisation II sur Mallarmé Eva Maria Rogner: soprano; Maria Bergmann: piano. Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI di Roma. Conductor: Pierre Boulez

3 Tombeau à la mémoire du Prince Max Egon zu Fürstenberg (1959)
Eva-Maria Rogner: soprano. Ensemble Domaine Musical Paris. Conductor: Pierre Boulez

Structures Book II for Two Pianos (1961)
4 Chapitre I
5 Chapitre II / Version 1
6 Chapitre II / Version 2
Yvonne Loriod, Piere Boulez: pianos
7 Kontra-Punkte for Ten Instruments, Op. 1 (1952-1953)
Solistes du Domaine musical. Conductor: Pierre Boulez
Symphony, Op.21 (1928)
8 Ruhig schreitend
9 Variationen
Orchestre du Domaine musical. Conductor: Pierre Boulez


1 Concertino for Twelve Instruments (arrangement of the original work for a string quartet (1920), made by Igor Stravinsky in 1952)
Conductor: Pierre Boulez
2 Symphonies of Wind Instruments (1920, version 1947)
Orchestre du Domaine musical. Conductor: Pierre Boulez
3 Intégrales for Orchestra and Percussion (1923-1925)
Orchestre du Domaine musical. Conductor: Pierre Boulez
4 Serenata 1 for Flute and Fourteen Instruments (1957)
Severino Gazzeloni: flute. Conductor: Pierre Boulez
5 Incontri, for Twenty-Four Instruments Orchestre Du Domaine Musical. Conductor: Pierre Boulez
6 Zeitmasse (Time Measures), for Five Woodwinds Op.5 (1956)
Conductor: Pierre Boulez
Septet (Suite) in E flat major, Op. 29 (1926)
7 Ouverture. Allegretto. Sehr flott
8 Tanzschritte
9 Thema mit Variationen 10 Gigue
Conductor: Pierre Boulez