On the death of our honorary member Pierre Boulez

The International Karl Amadeus Hartmann Society mourns the death of its founding member Pierre Boulez. With Pierre Boulez, the music world has lost not only a conductor and composer with a voice all of his own, but also one of its most important and in many ways formative personalities.

How close he felt to Karl Amadeus Hartmann became clear during his last appearance at musica viva on September 30, 2011 at Munich’s Prinzregententheater, which featured a magnificent performance of Boulez “Pli selon pli”. He never tired of referring in interviews and personal conversations to his beginnings as a composer and conductor and his first musica viva concerts, emphasizing Hartmann’s formative role. Thinking of Karl Amadeus Hartmann and Munich always warmed his heart. The impulses Boulez received from Hartmann and the idea of a platform for the freedom of thought, the freedom of art and for the social responsibility of art, which took shape in musica viva, were manifold.

In his usual modest but sustainable way of “acting” in the background and quietly pulling strings, Hartmann implemented an idea in 1960 and recommended Pierre Boulez for Bayreuth. Interestingly enough, this was combined with a very concrete recommendation for the work, which was finally followed in exactly the same way in 1966. In a letter to Wieland Wagner dated June 10, 1960 Karl Amadeus Hartmann wrote:

“I would like to draw your attention very briefly to a real artist who will certainly be considered for the Bayreuth Festival one day. It is Pierre Boulez, who is an outstanding composer, music writer and conductor, probably unique in his universality. I could imagine that he would be particularly suitable for ‘Parsifal’. This is just a little advice from my side.”

Parsifal was to become his first work in Bayreuth, the Jahrhundertring 1976 (directed by Patrice Chéreau) his masterpiece, with which he set a milestone in the history of interpretation.

Thus on September 30, 2011 in the musica viva a first circle closed, which is now completed on January 5, 2016.


Further links:


Pierre Boulez – Nachruf von Alexander Kluge (Spiegel online)

Zum Tode von Pierre Boulez – von Reinhard Brembeck (SZ)

Vom Sprengmeister zur Galionsfigur: Zum Tod des Komponisten Pierre Boulez – von Gerhard R. Koch (FAZ)

Reaktionen auf den Tod von Pierre Boulez (Die Welt online)

Sprengmeister der Moderne – von Frederick Hanssen (Tagesspiegel)

Zum Tod von Pierre Boulez – Lucerne Festival Academy, Videos (NMZ)