February 02, 2010

Renowned Contemporary Composer Pierre Boulez to Speak at Case Western Reserve University

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Renowned contemporary composer Pierre Boulez will participate in a talk titled "A Conversation with Pierre Boulez" on Friday, Feb. 5, at 4:30 p.m. in Harkness Chapel. The talk is presented by the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities. Boulez will be in dialogue with Mary Davis, chair of the Case Western Reserve University Department of Music.

The program is free and open to the public. Online registration is recommended.

In addition to the Baker-Nord sponsored conversation, Boulez will be making a conducting appearance with The Cleveland Orchestra as a part of events around the world celebrating Boulez's 85th birthday.

A renowned composer and conductor, Boulez is an international advocate for modernist music. A founder of IRCAM (Insitut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique) at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, he held the Chair in "Invention, Technique et Langage en Musique" at the College de France from 1976-1995. He has close ties to The Cleveland Orchestra, where he served as musical advisor from 1970-72 and appears regularly as a guest conductor.

This program, the first annual lecture in memory of Walter A. Strauss (1923-2008), who was the Elizabeth and William T. Treuhaft Professor of Humanities, is generously supported by funds provided by the Paul Wurzburger Endowment.

Born in 1925, Boulez can look back on nearly six decades of activity focused on making music an essential part of the contemporary world. His first compositions date back to the mid-1940s and his "Second Piano Sonata" (1947-48), a work of Beethovenian range and power, marked his creative coming of age.

After his compositional output decreased, he began appearing more and more frequently as a conductor. At first he specialized in twentieth-century music, especially in his work with the Domaine Musical organization he had founded in Paris, but by the end of the 1960s he had conducted Wagner in Bayreuth, Beethoven in London and Machaut in Los Angeles. In 1971 he was appointed music director of the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic, posts he held until 1975 and 1977 respectively.

In the mid-1970s, Boulez decided to reduce his conducting commitments drastically in order to concentrate on work at IRCAM, the Institute for Research and Coordination Acoustic/Music he founded at the request of President Georges Pompidou. There, his contacts with computer technicians and musicians were brought to bear on the composition of "Ré pons," followed by another electronic project, "...explosante-fixe..". for Midi-flute, two solo-flutes, ensemble and electronics.

Now conducting once again on a regular basis, Boulez has created a close relationship with outstanding American and European orchestras, including The Cleveland Orchestra. Amongst many others, he conducted the inaugural concert of the Cité de la musique at La Villette, a four orchestra Boulez-Festival in Tokyo, and prestigious worldwide tours with the London Symphony Orchestra celebrating his 70th, 75th and 80th birthdays.

After signing an exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon in 1992, Boulez devoted a considerable amount of his time to recording important works of the 20th century. His recordings earned more than 25 Grammys, as well as the European Gramophone-, Echo- or Deutscher Schallplatten-Awards. At the same time that he continued his work as composer, writing "Incises," "sur Incises," "Anthé mes 2," "Notations VII," "Dé rive 2," he assumed the composer's chair at Carnegie Hall and is conductor emeritus of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Acclaimed worldwide, he has received numerous prizes (Siemens Foundation/Germany, Leonie Sonning/Denmark, Praemium Imperiale/Japan, Polar Music Prize/Sweden, Wolf Prize/Israel, Grawemeyer Award/USA...) and honorary doctorates.

For more information, contact Keli Schimelpfenig, manager, performing arts marketing and events, at 368-1160, or go online.

For more information contact Susan Griffith, 216.368.1004.

Posted by: Kimyette Finley, February 2, 2010 12:23 PM | News Topics: Arts & Entertainment, College of Arts and Sciences, Events, Lectures/Speakers

Case Western Reserve University is committed to the free exchange of ideas, reasoned debate and intellectual dialogue. Speakers and scholars with a diversity of opinions and perspectives are invited to the campus to provide the community with important points of view, some of which may be deemed controversial. The views and opinions of those invited to speak on the campus do not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration or any other segment of the university community.