Pierre Boulez CBE (French: [pjɛʁ bu.lɛːz]; 26 March 1925 – 5 January 2016) was a French composer, conductor, writer and organiser of institutions.
In his early composing career Boulez played an important role in the development of integral serialism and controlled chance music. Later he explored the electronic transformation of instrumental music in real time. The type of music which interested him, along with his highly polemical views on music evolution, gave him the reputation of enfant terrible.
In a long conducting career Boulez held the positions of Chief Conductor of the New York Philharmonic and BBC Symphony Orchestras, Principal Guest Conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Music Director of the Ensemble Intercontemporain. He was particularly known for his performances of the music of the first half of the twentieth-century, including that of Debussy and Ravel, Stravinsky and Bartók and the composers of the Second Viennese School (Schoenberg, Berg and Webern). He also gave authoritative performances of works by his contemporaries, including Elliott Carter, Luciano Berio and György Ligeti and by composers of a younger generation, such as George Benjamin, Marc-André Dalbavie and Matthias Pintscher. In the opera house he conducted the Jahrhundertring—the production of Wagner's Ring cycle for the centenary of the Bayreuth Festival—and the world premiere of the complete, three-act version of Alban Berg's Lulu. His recorded legacy is extensive and he received a total of 26 Grammy Awards in the course of his career.
He was the founder of a number of musical institutions, including the Domaine musical, the Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM), the Ensemble Intercontemporain and the Cité de la musique (all based in Paris) and the Lucerne Festival Academy.
On 5 January 2016, Boulez died at his home in Baden-Baden, aged 90.