updated 6 January 2016
© Philippe Gontier

Pierre Boulez

French composer and conductor born 26 March 1925 in Montbrison (Loire); died 5 January 2016 in Baden-Baden, Germany.

Pierre Boulez was born in France in 1925. He studied advanced mathematics in Lyon before turning to the study of music in 1942, when he moved to Paris and was admitted, two years later, to the harmony class of Olivier Messiaen at the Conservatoire de Paris. He learned counterpoint with Andrée Vaurabourg, composition with Messiaen, and dodecaphonic technique with René Leibowitz. He graduated with highest honors in 1945.

In 1946, he was appointed as the stage music director of the Compagnie Renaud-Barrault, for whom he conducted scores by Auric, Poulenc, and Honegger, as well as his own work. Works such as Sonatine pour flûte et piano, Première Sonate for piano, and the first version of Visage nuptial for soprano, contralto, and chamber orchestra, with poems by René Char, affirmed his stature as a composer.

In 1951, he began experimenting in the studio of Pierre Schaeffer at Radio France, which led to two studies of musique concrète.

In 1953, Boulez launched the Concerts du Petit Marigny; the following year, they were renamed the Domaine Musical, and Boulez served as their director until 1967.

He gave multiple lectures at the Darmstadt Summer Courses between 1954 and 1965, which culminated in a book titled Penser la musique aujourd’hui (1963). It was during this time that, alongside Stockhausen, Berio, Ligeti, and Nono, Boulez consolidated his status as one of the great musical personalities of his generation.

In 1966, he was invited by Wieland Wagner to conduct Parsifal in Bayreuth, and Tristan und Isolde in Japan.

In 1969, Pierre Boulez conducted the New York Philharmonic Orchestra for the first time, and from 1971 to 1977, he succeeded Leonard Bernstein as its director.

In parallel, he was appointed chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra in London, a position he held from 1971 to 1975.

By invitation from French President Georges Pompidou, Boulez founded and directed the lnstitut de recherche et coordination acoustique/musique (IRCAM), which opened its doors in 1977.

In 1975, Michel Guy, the French Secretary of State for Cultural Affairs, announced the creation of the Ensemble Intercontemporain (EIC), of which Boulez was named the director.

In 1976, he was invited to Bayreuth to conduct Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen, directed by Patrice Chéreau, for the centennial celebration of the Ring cycle. Audio and video recordings were made of this production, which he conducted for five years running.

Boulez held the chair in Invention, technique et langage en musique at the Collège de France from 1976-1995 and wrote extensively on music.

In 1979, he conducted the global premiere of the complete version of Alban Berg’s Lulu at the Opéra de Paris.

In parallel, Pierre Boulez was associated with other major musical projects, such as the creation of the Opéra Bastille and the founding of the Cité de la Musique in La Villette.

In 1988, he directed a series of six television programs titled “Boulez XXe siècle.” For the Festival d’Avignon, he conducted Répons in the Carrière de Boulbon, and was a composer-in-residence at Centre Acanthes, in Villeneuve-lès-Avignon, where he gave a series of classes on orchestral conducting.

In 1992, Boulez stepped down from his position as director of the IRCAM to devote himself full time to conducting and composition. He signed an exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon and continued his illustrious recording career with some of the world’s greatest orchestras. In August of that year, he was composer-in-residence at the Salzburg Festival, which included concerts with the Ensemble Intercontemporain and the IRCAM, and with symphony orchestras.

Pierre Boulez was a regular guest at the Salzburg, Berlin, and Edinburgh Festivals, and received numerous awards and honors, including the Siemens Prize (1979), the Polaris Music Prize (1996), the Grawemeyer Award (2001), the Glenn Gould Prize (2002), the Kyoto Prize (2009), a Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement (Venice Biennale 2012) and the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award (2013).

The most important works composed while at the IRCAM are Répons (1981-1988) for six soloists, ensemble, and live electronics, whose final version premiered at the 1988 Festival d’Avignon; Dialogue de l’ombre double (1985) for clarinet and tape; …explosante-fixe… for flute, ensemble, and live electronics (1991-1993); and Anthèmes 2 (1997) for violin and live electronics.

His last compositions were sur Incises, which premiered at the 1998 Edinburgh Festival, and Dérive 2, whose final version premiered in July 2006 at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence. In 2005, he also completed a piano score for an album of pieces for young pianists, Une page d’éphéméride, as well as a revision of a short work written in 1969, titled Pour le Dr. Kalmus.

From 2004 to 2007, he conducted Wagner’s Ring in Bayreuth again, this time directed by Christoph Schlingensief. In 2013, Deutsche Grammophon released a 13-CD box set of Boulez’s complete works. Among the many 90th birthday celebrations held in honor of Boulez in 2015 were music festivals organized by the Cleveland Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, as well as by his adoptive home city of Baden Baden, Germany. An exhibit on Boulez was also hung at the Musée de la Musique in Paris, and a series of concerts was held at the Barbican Centre in London.


© Ircam-Centre Pompidou, 2019

Sources

  • Paul GRIFFITHS, Boulez, Oxford Studies of Composers, vol. XVI, London, Oxford University Press, 1978.
  • G. William HOPKINS, et Paul GRIFFITHS, “Boulez, Pierre”, in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2e éd., Stanley Sadie et John Tyrell (éd.), Londres, Macmillan Publishers, vol. IV, 2001, p. 98-108.
  • Dominique JAMEUX, Boulez, Paris, Fayard, 1985.
  • Joan PEYSER, Boulez: Composer, Conductor, Enigma, New York, Schirmer Books, 1976.

By Jonathan Goldman

Pierre Boulez is one of the most influential composers of the second half of the twentieth century. His musical trajectory is intermingled with a sizable portion of the history of art music: a leading figure of modernism, impossible to ignore, he has represented and enlivened the musical avant-garde since 1945 in the eyes or the public. His career as a conductor brought him to the head of the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic among others, introducing him to a concertgoing public whose attitudes he hoped to reshape, initiating them through concerts and CDs to modernist classics from the first half of the century (Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Webern, Bartok, Berg, etc.). Pierre Boulez has also had a signifiant impact on the development of musical institutions, especially in France where he launched or nurtured such projects as IRCAM (where he became the first director), the Ensemble Intercontemporain, and the Cité de la Musique.

Boulez is also a writer; his tastes and talent for taking public stances forced his adversaries as well as his champions to reflect upon and debate the aesthetic choices made at various turning points in history. His provocative affirmations, such as the famous article written at the time of Arnold Schoenberg’s death, “Schoenberg is Dead” (1951), or his cutting judgment on the “uselessness” of composers who haven’t “felt the need of the twelve-tone language” (1952) made Boulez a controversial figure in the artistic and cultural milieu, even beyond musical circles. Boulez’s ideas often connected with those of philosophers, writers, or sculptors, from the crucial moment of structuralism in the 1950s and 1960s; thus it is hardly surprising that intellectuals such as Michel Foucault or Gilles Deleuze spoke of Boulez’s music on occasion. These conversations worked in both directions, and Boulez’s music is equally permeated by fertile exchanges with thinkers, poets, and artists, from Paul Klee to René Char, from Paul Valéry to Henri Michaux, from Stephane Mallarmé to James Joyce.

For a first look at Boulez’s musical world, let’s begin by a close look at what is in effect his opus 1, the first of the Notations for piano, composed in 1945:


Figure 1 : *Notations 1* (UE18310)

These twelve measures can be split up according to a set of internal oppositions. By pairing each small motivic unit with its twin, the form of this miniature becomes perceptible. For example, the triplets in the first measure are also found in the final bar with the same pitches but the inverse melodic profile. The same reasoning can be followed for each unit in the piece, giving the following layout in columns:


Figure 2 : oppositionnal pairs in *Notation I*

In four of these pairs, the opening cell reappears transformed: the melodic profile of the first element is inverted, the durations of the second are lengthened, the chord is scored first fortissimo then pianissimo, and the ostinato pedal is transposed from the low to the high register. We are confronted by a typical Boulezian setup where certain basic aspects of the musical vocabulary are contrasted while others remain static.

Pierre Boulez defines a musical language by establishing oppositions between one type of material and another, forcing them to interact with one another. Though the surface may seem smooth or supple, the underlying system generally turns out to be rigidly organized. The author of the essay “Constructing an Improvisation” (1961) objects to the false opposites of freedom and constraints, between the musical idea and the mediating system, between spontaneity and calculation, between autonomy and free will. All in all, Boulez’s music offers a world of contrasts that transcends the fundamental unity of its core material.

If his earliest works such as the Première sonate (1946) and the Sonatine for flute and piano (1946) show an assimilation of a serial language inherited from Webern and Schoenberg as well as a rhythmic treatment indebted to his teacher Messiaen, the Deuxième Sonate (1948), published by Heugel in 1950, definitively established Boulez’s musical personality in the eyes of the avant-garde public. This technically demanding four-movement work is characterized by a dense counterpoint dominated by jerky gestures rarely heard before in piano works, which Boulez described at the time as “the instrument of madness itself.” With strident gestures and superposed layers, Boulez fulfills in this Sonate the wish he first expressed in 1948: that music “must be a sort of collective bewitching and hysteria, violently current” (in 1995, p. 262). Nevertheless, references to sonata form are hardly abandoned: its model is the Beethovian sonata, and the piece even includes a scherzo-trio. In 1951-1952, Boulez attracted a lot of attention with his experiments in nearly “automatic” composition, using what he called “total serialism.” In Structures pour deux pianos, livre 1 (1952), Boulez applies the proportions of a twelve-tone series to other musical parameters such as intensity, durations, and type of attack. This attempt—“not un-absurd,” as Boulez would later note— rests nevertheless on an assumed impulse to unify the musical discourse, a goal he would continue to aim for by other means in later works. This is undoubtedly why the original title envisioned for Structures was borrowed from a Paul Klee painting: À la limite du pays fertile.

Le marteau sans maître (1955) however remains the most famous work of this early period, a piece emblematic of Boulezian language in more than one respect. It reflects Boulez’s wish to create a musical corollary to surrealist poetry—in this case, René Char, whose work he’d already used twice before, in the cantatas Le soleil des eaux (1950, 1958, 1965) and Le visage nuptial (1951-1952, 1989)—a task which was no doubt achieved only partially by composers more closely associated with the surrealist movement, such as André Souris. The lineup of exotic instruments (guitar, xylorimba, viola, alto flute, vibraphone, percussion, and contralto voice) makes this the first piece to employ what would later be understood as Boulez’s instrumentarium par excellence—that is to say, resonant instruments, those whose players (Boulez explains) can no longer control the evolution of their sound after an attack (all the instruments in Marteau except the alto flute and viola). The color resulting from this uncommon choice of instrumentation approaches, in the ears of many of its first listeners, the timbre of a Balinese gamelan. Elsewhere, his original use of the voice, a sort of extension of Sprechstimme, alongside closed-mouth effects and conventional singing, anticipates a not insignificant later preoccupation (notably in Pli selon pli and cummings ist der dichter). In addition, the cyclical structure of interposed movements shows an interest in non-linear forms, later manifest in the composer’s attempts at open forms (see below).

Boulez’s works maintain a sort of genetic relationship, with the origins of certain pieces often visible as ‘works-in-progress’ in others. A few clarifications must be introduced here. First of all, certain works are “derived” from other works: the source work is in this case comparable to a living organism nurturing its offspring. There are other pieces which exist in successive versions, sometimes reworked after long periods, even decades: the four versions on Le visage nuptial (studied by Gerald Bennet (1986)), the different versions of Pli selon pli and Répons—examples of potentially unfinishable pieces. Certain works remain unfinished and apparently abandoned (only two of the five movements of the Troisième sonate were published, though Boulez premiered work in 1957 by playing all five movements). Elsewhere, occasional though non-explicit borrowing between pieces can be found, such as the reorchestration of two of the Notations for piano (1945) inserted into the Première Improvisation sur Mallarmé (the second movement of Pli selon pli) a secret self-quotation in 1962 sine the Notations were not published until 1975. Finally, there are the pieces withdrawn from the composer’s catalogue, such as Poésie pour pouvoir, an electroacoustic piece with an inconclusive coordination between ensemble and electronics.

The example of Poésie pour pouvoir illustrates another contrast which marks Boulez’s imagination from very early on: the interplay between instrumental sound and electronics. One could detect in the failure of Poésie pour pouvoir the basis for a path which would lead to the establishment of IRCAM and to research into the possibilities of interaction between instruments and electronics. Real-time technology, where the sound of an instrument is modified and redistributed with practically no delay, remains a major preoccupation for Boulez, one he puts into practice in several works combining acoustic instruments with their electroacoustic extensions: Dialogue de l’ombre double, …explosante-fixe…, Anthèmes 2, and above all Répons.

But the fundamental contrast that has always retained Boulez’s interest is that which exists between pulse and resonance. In his well-known treatise Penser la musique d’aujourd’hui (1963), an extension of his courses at Darmstadt, Boulez defines a distinction between ‘smooth’ time and ‘grooved’ time. Alternating between moments of pulsated, rhythmic time and others where time is homogenous and undifferentiated—this will always be the key to unlocking Boulez’s musical universe. Unfurling a passage in ‘smooth time’ often consists of composing resonance: allowing instruments to resonate implies letting oneself be guided by the highly unforeseeable patterns of decay particular to individual instruments. This alternation is present in early works such as Notations (mentioned earlier in this text) or the Deuxième sonate, where a percussive gesture confronts a resonant element in the first measure. Boulez later put the same concept to spectacular use in Éclat (1965), where the choice of instruments (piano, celesta, harp, glockenspiel, vibraphone, mandolin, guitar, cymbalom, and tubular bells, plus six other non-resonant instruments) creates a sort of scale from the shortest possible resonance (mandolin) to the longest (piano). A part of the work’s dialectic involves allowing instruments to resonate without intervention. In the central section marked “Assez lent, suspendu, comme imprévisible” (markers 14-19), the instruments play simple unornamented notes one after another, accentuating the resonance between each attack. This fascination for resonance seems to be the most durable lesson Boulez retained from his fellow traveller of a brief period, John Cage: resonance is the open path to a certain unpredictability, the randomness of the moment, but always under control and within circumscribed limits. The remarkable entry of six solo instruments in Répons (at marker 21) is no less engaged with this fascination with the evolution of resonances; here, the resonances are amplified, prolonged, and spatialized by the electronics.

Additionally, Boulez’s predilection, for about ten years around 1960, for what came to be called “open pieces” can only be understood as a result of his exploration of contrasts between grooved time/smooth time and pulse/resonance—concepts which play a primordial role in nearly all his pieces, from Notations (1945) to Sur Incises (1994/1998), even when the form is fixed. Rather than “open pieces,” Boulez preferred “works with an open trajectory,” a term that applies to Éclat (1965), the Deuxième livre de Structures pour deux pianos (1956-1961), Domaines (1961-1968) for clarinet with or without ensemble, and above all the Troisième sonate which alongside Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Klavierstück XI (1956) inspired a large number of open-form compositions in the 1960s such as Earle Brown‘s Modules I and II (1967) or André Boucourechliev‘s Archipels (1966-1971). Explaining his fondness for open forms, Boulez explicitly claims to represent the poetic ideals of Mallarmé, whose Livre, an immense unfinished project involving a poem in moveable parts, reconstructed by Jacques Scherer in 1957. According to Scherer, “in order to eliminate chance even more radically, the Livre refuses the passivity of monolinear continuity, existing rather in a multi-dimensional hyper-space of non-Euclidean geometry” (Scherer, 1957, in 1977, p. xvii).

Boulez was inspired by this spirit not only in his extended “Portrait of Mallarmé,” the monumental Pli selon pli (whose earlier versions included some open-form indications in the vocal part), but also in pieces such as the Livre pour quatuor (published in 1968), where the performers are invited to play a subset of several proposed sections in their own chosen order.

Throughout the years, Boulez’s interest in larger forms began to grow. The turning point must have been Rituel in memoriam Bruno Maderna (1975), a piece where a single breath lasts twenty minutes, where Boulez clearly reaffirms his will to “last.” But this work, one which garnered public attention more easily (it has been recorded about six times), with its obstinate repetitions and static harmony, is one of the least representative of Boulez’s habitual style, usually more frenetic and more focused on variation at the expense of repetition. Regardless, large-scale form takes a prominent role in the works that follow Rituel, pieces of substantial scope such as …explosante-fixe… for MIDI flute, large ensemble, and real-time electronics (1991-1993), Répons for six soloists, ensemble, and electronics (1980-1984), or Sur Incises for three pianos, three harps, and three percussionists (1996-1998) in two long movements, played without a pause. This tendency can perhaps partly be explained by the experience acquired as a conductor in the 1960s and 1970s, leading orchestras in Cleveland, New York, and Vienna (in long-winded pieces like Mahler symphonies), as well as his experience conducting the Ring cycle and Parsifal at Bayreuth (1976-1980). At the same time, Boulez authored some of his shortest works for soloists small ensemble, which often elaborate on a local level ideas more fully explored in the pieces of larger scope; we hear echoes of Mémoriale in …explosante-fixe…, of Dérive 1 and Anthème 1 in Répons, of Dialogue de l’ombre double in Domaines, etc.

Parallel to this taste for large-scale form, Boulez demonstrates in his later works a greater attention to the audience’s ability to follow the trajectory of a piece. This interest in the perceptual previsibility in his work is mot discernible in what Boulez termed “signals” and “envelopes,” signposts to guide the listener. Signals, or points of reference that serve to articulate crucial moments in the form, are often radical changes in dominant texture, often using long sustained notes. In Mémoriale (1985) these long notes played with a tremolo are endowed with a harmonic accompaniment that define the boundaries of the form. In the same fashion, the sustained harmonics in Anthème 1 (1992) act as a signal that divides the work into seven sections of variable duration. The long high notes played by the winds in Répons (especially during the orchestral introduction) also play a guiding role in helping the listener to understand the global movement of the piece, without necessarily contributing a higher level of detail. In Dérive 1, a short piece for six instruments filled with shimmering timbres, Boulez guides the audience’s perception by radically limiting the harmonic content to only six chords. This reduction allows him to engage in a game of ornamentation in which an abundance of appoggiaturas that threaten and ultimately supplant the regular pulse of the meter (this is Boulez’s only piece written from start to finish in 4/4!). The figures are complex, but because they appear only in the context of six harmonic envelopes, made all the more recognizable by their fixed registers, Boulez attains a high degree of immediate comprehensibility which no doubt accounts for the popularity of the piece.

Through its engagement with serialism, open forms, the problems of interaction between instrument and machine, and questions of perception, Boulez’s output is as rich as it is unified. If “total serialism” was quickly abandoned, the search for unity never has been, and serial thought remains second nature even when Boulez returns to thematic writing in recent works, or when splitting lines into ornamentation, as in Dérive or in Répons. Furthermore, as a conductor, educator, analyst, and administrator, he has had a hand in creating lasting institutions devoted to the progress of music and its relation to the public.

Translation: Christopher Trapani.

© Ircam-Centre Pompidou, 2007

Écrits et entretiens de Boulez

  • Pierre BOULEZ, Penser la musique aujourd’hui, Mainz-Paris, Schott-Éditions Denoël-Gonthier, 1964 ; éd. orig., Musikdenken heute 1, Darmstädter Beiträge zur Neuen Musik, n° 5, 1963.
  • Pierre BOULEZ, Relevés d’apprenti, Paule Thévenin (éd.), Paris, Éditions du Seuil, 1966.
  • Pierre BOULEZ, Par volonté et par hasard. Entretiens avec Célestin Deliège, Paris, éditions du Seuil, 1975.
  • Pierre BOULEZ, Points de repère, Jean-Jacques Nattiez (éd.), Paris, Christian Bourgois/éditions du Seuil, 1981 ; 2e éd., 1985.
  • Pierre BOULEZ, Orientations, Jean-Jacques Nattiez (éd.), Londres, Faber, 1986.
  • Pierre BOULEZ, Jalons (pour une décennie), Jean-Jacques Nattiez (éd.), Paris, Christian Bourgois éditeur, 1989 ; éd. augmentée, Boulez 2005b.
  • Pierre BOULEZ et John CAGE, Correspondance et documents, Jean-Jacques Nattiez (éd.), Winterthur, Amadeus, 1989 ; nouvelle éd., Robert Piencikowski (éd.), Mayence, Schott, 2002.
  • Pierre BOULEZ, Points de repère. I. Imaginer, Jean-Jacques Nattiez et Sophie Galaise (éd.), Paris, Christian Bourgois éditeur, 1995.
  • Pierre BOULEZ, L’écriture du geste : entretiens avec Cécile Gilly sur la direction d’orchestre, Paris, Christian Bourgois éditeur, 2002.
  • Pierre BOULEZ, Regards sur autrui, Points de repères II, J.-J. Nattiez and S. Galaise (éd.), Paris, Christian Bourgois éditeur, 2005.
  • Pierre BOULEZ, Leçons de musique : Points de repères III, Jean-Jacques Nattiez (éd.) ; préfaces de Jean-Jacques Nattiez, Michel Foucault et Jonathan Goldman, Paris, Christian Bourgois éditeur, 2005.
  • Pierre BOULEZ, Bruno SERROU, Entretiens : 1983-2013, Château-Gontier, éditions Aedam Musicae, coll. « Musiques du XXe siècle », 2017.
  • François MEÏMOUN, Entretien avec Pierre Boulez - La naissance d’un compositeur, Château-Gontier, éditions Aedam Musicae, coll. « Musiques du XXe siècle », 2010.
  • Rocco DI PIETRO, Dialogues with Boulez, Lanham, Scarecrow Press, 2001.
  • Véronique PUCHALA, Pierre Boulez. À voix nue, entretiens, Symétrie, 2008.
  • Jean VERMEIL, Conversations de Pierre Boulez sur la direction d’orchestre, Paris, Plume, 1989.

Écrits sur Boulez

  • Jesus AGUILA, Le Domaine musical : Pierre Boulez et vingt ans de création contemporaine, Paris, Fayard, 1992.
  • Philippe ALBÈRA (éd.), Pli selon pli de Pierre Boulez. Entretien et études, éditions Contrechamps, Genève, 2003.
  • Gerald BENNETT, «The early works», in Glock (éd.), 1986, op. cit., p. 41-84.
  • Damien BONNEC, Pierre Boulez et Stéphane Mallarmé : essai d’une herméneutique comparée, thèse à l’Université Rennes 2, 2019.
  • Georgina BORN, Rationalizing Culture: IRCAM, Boulez and the Institutionalization of the Musical Avant-Garde, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1995.
  • Mary BREATNACH, Boulez and Mallarmé: a Study in Poetic Influence, Aldershot-Brookfield, Scolar Press-Ashgate, 1996.
  • Edward CAMPBELL, Boulez and Expression: A Deleuzoguattarian Approach, diss. University of Edinburgh, 2000.
  • Edward CAMPBELL, Peter O’Hagan (éds.), Pierre Boulez Studies, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2016.
  • Rosanna DALMONTE, P. Boulez, S. Mallarmé: convergenze di poetica, V. Di Stefano (éd.), Bologna, Cooperativa Libraria Universitaria, 1978.
  • Pascal DECROUPET et Jean-Louis LELEU (éd.) Pierre Boulez. Techniques d’écriture et enjeux esthétiques, Geneva, Contrechamps, 2006.
  • Barbara DOBRETSBERGER, Première und Deuxième Sonate von Pierre Boulez. Phänomene strukturalistischen Denkens, Frankfurt, Peter Lang, 2005.
  • Laurent DOUSSON, Une manière de penser et de sentir : Essai sur Pierre Boulez. Suivi d’un entretien avec Pierre Boulez, Rennes, Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2017.
  • Jorge FERNÁNDEZ GUERRA, Pierre Boulez, Madrid, Circulo de Bellas Artes, 1985.
  • Wolfgang FINK (éd.), Boulez 2000, London Symphony Orchestra, Cologne, Wienand Verlag, 2000.
  • Sophie GALAISE, Les écrits et la carrière de Pierre Boulez : catalogue et chronologie, thèse à l’Université de Montréal, 2001.
  • William GLOCK (éd.), Pierre Boulez. A Symposium, Londres, Eulenburg Books, 1986.
  • Jonathan GOLDMAN, Analyzing Pierre Boulez: notes on Anthèmes, for solo violin. Creating a Labyrinth out of another Labyrinth, diss. Université de Montréal, 1999.
  • Jonathan GOLDMAN, Exploding/Fixed: Form as Opposition in the Writings and Later Works of Pierre Boulez, thèse à l’Université de Montréal, 2006.
  • Jonathan GOLDMAN, Jean-Jacques NATTIEZ, François NICOLAS, La pensée de Pierre Boulez à travers ses écrits, éd. Delatour, Paris, 2010.
  • Martin GRABOW, Erfindung - Recycling - Neukomposition : Untersuchungen zur inneren Verflochtenheit des Lebenswerks von Pierre Boulez am Beispiel der ‘notations’, Hildesheim, Georg Olms Verlag, 2016.
  • Paul GRIFFITHS, Boulez, Oxford Studies of Composers, vol. XVI, London, Oxford University Press, 1978.
  • Erling E. GULDBRANDSEN, Tradisjon og tradisjonsbrudd. En studie i Pierre Boulez: Pli selon pli - portrait de Mallarmé, diss. University of Oslo, 1995 ; réédité, Acta Humaniora 23, Universitetsforlaget, 1997.
  • Josef HÄUSLER (éd.), Pierre Boulez: eine Festschrift zum 60. Geburtstag am 26. März 1985, Vienna, Universal Editions, 1985.
  • Theo HIRSBRUNNER, Pierre Boulez und sein Werk, Laaber, Laaber Verlag, 1985.
  • Dominique JAMEUX, Boulez, Paris, Fayard, 1985.
  • Lev KOBLYAKOV, Pierre Boulez: a World of Harmony. New York, Harwood Academic Publishers, 1990.
  • György LIGETI, «Pierre Boulez. Entscheidung und Automatik in der Structure Ia», Die Reihe, n° 4, 1958, p. 38-63, 1957 ; trad. angl., « Pierre Boulez. Decision and automatism in Structure Ia », Die Reihe, n° 4, 1959, p. 36-62.
  • François MEÏMOUN, La construction du langage musical de Pierre Boulez : “la Première Sonate” pour piano, Château-Gontier, Editions AEDAM Musicae, 2019.
  • Christian MERLIN, Pierre Boulez, Paris, fayard, 2019.
  • Olivier MESTON, Éclat de Pierre Boulez, Paris, Michel de Maule, 2001.
  • Heinz-Klaus METZGER et Rainer RIEHN (éd.), « Pierre Boulez »*, Musik-Konzepte*, n° 89-90, Munich, Text + Kritik, 1995.
  • Heinz-Klaus METZGER et Rainer RIEHN (éd.), «Pierre Boulez II»*, Musik-Konzepte*, n° 96, Munich, Text + Kritik, 1997.
  • Jean-Jacques NATTIEZ, «Répons et la crise de la ‘communication’ musicale contemporaine », in InHarmoniques, n° 2, 1987, p. 193-210 ; révisé sous titre « Boulez à l’âge postmoderne : le temps de Répons », in Id., Le Combat de Chronos et d’Orphée: essais, Paris, Christian Bourgois éditeur, 1993, p. 159-214.
  • Peter O’HAGAN, Sur Incises de Pierre Boulez, Genève, Contrechamps, 2021.
  • Joan PEYSER, Boulez: Composer, Conductor, Enigma, New York, Schirmer Books, 1976.
  • Joan PEYSER, To Boulez and Beyond: Music in Europe Since the Rite of Spring, New York, Billboard Books, 1999.
  • Robert PIENCIKOWSKI, « Assez lent, suspendu, comme imprévisible : quelques aperçus sur les travaux d’approche d’Eclat», Genesis, n° 4, 1993, p. 51-67.
  • Répons-Boulez, Actes Sud-Papiers, Paris, 1988.
  • Claude SAMUEL (éd.), Éclats-Boulez, Paris, Éditions du Centre Pompidou, 1986 ; nouvelle éd., Boulez-Eclats 2002, Paris, Mémoire du Livre, 2002.
  • Jacques SCHERER, Le « Livre » de Mallarmé: premières recherches sur des documents inédits, Paris, Gallimard, 1957 ; éd. augmentée, 1978.
  • Ulrich SIEGELE, Zwei Kommentare zum Marteau sans Maître von Pierre Boulez, Neuhausen-Stuttgart, Hänssler Verlag, 1979.
  • Peter F. STACEY, Boulez and the Modern Concept, Lincoln, University of Nebraska Press-Aldershot, Scholar Press, 1987.
  • Manfred STAHNKE, Struktur und Ästhetik bei Boulez. Untersuchungen zum Formanten ‘Trope’ der dritten Klaviersonate, Hamburg, Hamburger Beitrage zur Musikwissens-chaft-Karl Dieter Wagner, 1979.
  • Nicholas TOOTH, Pierre Boulez, Troisième Sonate pour piano, Melbourne, University of Melbourne Press, 1983.

Discographie sélective

  • Pierre BOULEZ, Le Marteau sans Maître, dans « Boulez / Manoury. Le Marteau sans Maître - B-Partita », Ensemble Orchestral Contemporain, direction : Daniel Kawka, 1 Cd Col Legno, 2019, WWE 1CD 20447.
  • Pierre BOULEZ, Notation I, Notation II, Notation III, Notation IV, dans « Sinfonia / Notations I-IV / La Valse », 1 cd Seattle Symphony Media, 2018, SSM1018.
  • Pierre BOULEZ, Dérive 2 ; Dialogue de l’ombre double ; Mémoriale ; Le Marteau sans Maître ; Anthèmes 2 ; Messagesquisse, West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, Daniel Barenboim : direction, dans « Hommage à Boulez », 1 cd Deutsche Grammophon, 2017.
  • Pierre BOULEZ, Dérive 1, Troisième Sonate, Fragment d’une Ébauche, Prague Modern, direction : Pascal Gallois, dans « Arnold Schoenberg / Pierre Boulez », 1 cd Stradivarius, 2017, STR 37088.
  • Pierre BOULEZ, Anthems I, violon : Irvine Arditti, dans « Caprices », 1 cd Aeon, 2017, AECD 1755.
  • Pierre BOULEZ, Mémoriale ; Dérive 1 ; Dérive 2, Ensemble Orchestral Contemporain, direction : Daniel Kawka, 1 cd Naïve, 2012.
  • Pierre BOULEZ, Le marteau sans maître ; Dérive 1 et 2, Ensemble intercontemporain, direction : Pierre Boulez, 1 cd Deutsche Grammophon, coll. 20-21, 2005.
  • Pierre BOULEZ, The three piano sonatas, Paavali Jumppanen, 1 cd Deutsche Grammophon, coll. 20-21, 2005.
  • Pierre BOULEZ, Rituel in memoriam Maderna ; Notations I ;Notations VII;Notations**IV;Notations**III;Notations**II, Orchestre national de Lyon, direction : David Robertson, 1 cd Naïve, 2003, MO 782163.
  • Pierre BOULEZ, Pli selon pli, Christine Schäfer, Ensemble intercontemporain, direction : Pierre Boulez, 1 cd Deutsche Grammophon, coll. 20-21, 2002.
  • Pierre BOULEZ, « …explosante-fixe… » :*Douze notations;Structures pour deux pianos;…explosante-fixe…, Pierre-Laurent Aimard : piano, Laurent Boffard, Sophie Cherrier, Emmanuelle Ophèle, Pierre-André Valade, Andrew Gerzso, Ensemble intercontemporain, direction : Pierre Boulez, 1 cd Deutsche Grammophon, coll. 20-21, 2005 (réédition de Deutsche Grammophon, 1995).
  • Pierre BOULEZ, Sur Incises ; Messagesquisse ; Anthème 2, Jean-Guihen Queyras, Hae-Sun Kang, Pierre Boulez, 1 cd Deutsche Grammophon, coll. 20-21, 2000 (réédition en 2007).
  • Pierre BOULEZ, Structures pour deux pianos, premier et deuxième livre, Alfons et Aloys Kontarsky : piano, 1 cd Wergo, 1992, WER 6011-2.
  • Pierre BOULEZ, Sonatine pour flûte et piano ; Sonate pour piano n° 1 ; Dérive-Mémoriale ; Dialogue de l’ombre double ; cummings ist der Dichter, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Sophie Cherrier, Alain Damiens, BBC Singers, Ensemble intercontemporain, direction : Pierre Boulez, 1 cd Apex, 2003 (réédition du cd 2292-45648-2, 1991).
  • Pierre BOULEZ,I. Rituel in Memoriam Maderna ; II. Eclat / Multiples, BBC Symphony Orchestra (I), Ensemble intercontemporain (II), direction : Pierre Boulez, 1 cd Sony, 1990, SMK 45839.
  • Pierre BOULEZ,Rituel in Memoriam Maderna ; Messagesquisse ; Notations (1, 4, 3, 2), Orchestre de Paris, direction : Daniel Barenboim, 1 cd Sony, 1990, SMK 45839.
  • Pierre BOULEZ, I. Pli Selon Pli ; II. Le Visage Nuptial ; III. Le Soleil Des Eaux ; IV. Figures, Doubles, Prismes*, Phyllis Bryn-Julson, Elizabeth Laurence, BBC Singers, BBC Symphony Orchestra, direction : Pierre Boulez, 2 cd Apex, 2005 (réédition des II, III, IV  du cd Erato 2292-45494-2, 1990).
  • Pierre BOULEZ, I. Le marteau sans maître ;II. Notations pour piano ;III. Structures pour deux pianos, livre II, Elisabeth Laurence : mezzo-soprano, Ensemble intercontemporain, direction : Pierre Boulez (I), Pi-Hsien Chen (II, III), Bernhard Wambach (III), 1 cd CBS Records Masterworks, 1989, MK 42619.
  • Pierre BOULEZ, Domaines, Michel Portal, ensemble Musique Vivante, direction : Diego Masson, 1 cd Harmonia Mundi, coll. musique d’abord, 1988, HMA 195930.
  • Pierre BOULEZ, I. Le marteau sans maître ;II. Sonatine, Olivier MESSIAEN, III. Sept Haïkaï, Jeanne Deroubaix : contralto, Severino Gazzelloni : flûte en sol, Georges Van Gucht : xylorimba, Claude Ricou : vibraphone, Jean Batigne : percussion, Anton Stingl : guitare, Serge Collot : alto (I), Jacques Castagner : flûte, Jacqueline Mefano : piano (II), Yvonne Loriod : piano, Les percussions de Strasbourg, Orchestre du Domaine musical, direction : Pierre Boulez, 1 cd Adès, n° 14.073-2.
  • Pierre BOULEZ, Trois sonates pour piano, Claude Helffer : piano, 1 cd Astrée-Auvidis, 1986, E 7716.
  • Pierre BOULEZ, Première Sonate pour piano ; Deuxième Sonate pour piano ; Troisième Sonate pour piano, Herbert Henck : piano, 1 cd Wergo, 1985, WER 60121-50.