Pierre Boulez — composer, conductor, advocate for new music and one of the most important musical and intellectual figures of his time — died Jan. 5 at age 90 at his home in Baden-Baden, Germany, after a long illness. An eloquent and passionate advocate of the music of the 20th and 21st centuries, he was one of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s most popular conductors during his annual residencies.
Boulez first led the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in February 1969. In 1995, he was named the orchestra’s third principal guest conductor, and he was named Helen Regenstein Conductor Emeritus in 2006. Boulez most recently led the Orchestra and Chorus in 2010.
In a tribute to his longtime colleague, CSO Music Director Riccardo Muti said: “With the loss of Pierre Boulez, the world of music today is infinitely poorer. As both an admirer and friend of the Maestro, I am deeply grateful for his contributions, as composer, conductor and educator, to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, with which he had a collaboration of nearly 50 years, and served so brilliantly as its principal guest conductor and conductor emeritus. His great musical artistry and exceptional intelligence will be missed.”
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said in a statement: “Audacity, innovation, creativity — that is what Pierre Boulez was for French music, which he helped shine everywhere in the world.”
Please visit the From the Archives blog for a survey of Pierre Boulez’s years with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.