Composer Pierre Boulez has died on January 5 at his home in Baden-Baden, Germany, aged 90, his family has said.
In a statement, the French composer and conductor’s family said: “For all those who met him and were able to appreciate his creative energy, his artistic vigor… will remain alive and strong.”
As well as being a world-famous composer and conductor, Pierre Boulez was a prolific writer and pianist and head of the music venue The Paris Philharmonic.
Pierre Boulez was also the founder and former director of the Paris based Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique and was famed for his work alongside leading experimental composers such as Karlheinz Stockhausen and Olivier Messiaen.
French PM Manuel Valls paid tribute to Pierre Boulez on Twitter: “Courage, innovation, creativity, this is what Pierre Boulez meant to the world of French music, of which he made a beacon of light throughout the world.”
Pierre Boulez had been considered one of the most influential voices in the contemporary music since the 1950s and, as a conductor, he was in demand on both sides of the Atlantic.
One of his particular trademarks as a conductor was that he shunned the baton, always choosing to conduct with his hands.
As a composer, Pierre Boulez’s work was noted for its difficulty, with one of his most celebrated works, Le Marteau Sans Maitre, being inspired by the complexity and lack of formal artistic structure of surrealist poetry.
Born in the Loire region of France in 1925, Pierre Boulez began his musical career at the Conservatoire in Paris, one of the world’s most celebrated music schools.
He graduated in 1945 and, still only 21, became musical director of the theatre company of Jean-Louis Barrault and Madeleine Renaud.
During this period Pierre Boulez composed violent early pieces such as his first two piano sonatas and Livre Pour Quatuor for the string quartet.
Pierre Boulez’s career as a conductor took off in the 1950s, during which time he performed with the Sudwestfunk (South-West German Radio).
He also began acting as guest conductor for some of Europe’s leading orchestras and festivals.
His rebellious nature also led him once being briefly detained by Swiss police on suspicion of being linked to terrorist activities in the period of heightened security soon after the 9/11 terror attacks.
Swiss authorities confiscated his passport in the town of Basle, where he had been conducting at a music festival, after discovering he had said in the 1960s opera houses should be blown up and therefore considered him a potential security threat.
Pierre Boulez was also conducted into the Gramophone Hall of Fame in 2012.