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Pierre Boulez

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Pierre Boulez (1925–2015), French composer and conductor, student of Messiaen and Leibowitz, one of the creators of serialism and a leading representative of the postwar avant-garde. He exerted a great influence on the developmental direction of the music of his time through his compositional output, theoretical works, and conducting activity. As a conductor that appeared with the leading orchestras of the world he contributed to the popularization of contemporary music and the ‘twentieth-century classics', also becoming well-known as an interpreter of works by Wagner and Mahler. He is founder of the Institut de Recherche et de Coordination Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM), which he directed until 1991.

On October 1966, Pierre Boulez directed the Hamburg world premiere of Witold Lutosławski's Symphony no. 2 (second movement only). The performance was presented by the North German Radio Symphony Orchestra, which commissioned the work for the occasion of the hundredth concert in the series "Das Neue Werk", which was devoted to contemporary music. The Polish composer, being overburdened by responsibilities, was able to complete only the second, main movement of the work, titled Direct. (Witold Lutosławski lead the world premiere of the entire symphony the following year in Katowice).

Lutosławski was not entirely content with Boulez's interpretation, but he remembered the concert with satisfaction, regretting only that he presented "only part of the composition - its ‘torso' - not being able to transmit a proper conception of the entire undertaking" to the "vivaciously responsive audience".

kt / trans. mk