Born in 1925, this French composer and world-renowned conductor is a farsighted champion of the limitless possibilities of compositional technique, easily seen in his development and mastery of serialsm, his compositions of so-called "controlled chance," and pioneering experiments with electronic music. After studying under Messiaen at the Paris Conservatoire he appeared with a pair of intense, violent piano sonatas and the Livre pour quatuor for string quartet. In the early '50s he became friends with Stockhausen, with whom he led the European avant garde through his teaching and key postwar works of "tonal serialism," which include a number of works equally challenging and elegant.
In the mid-1950s, Boulez extended his activities to conducting, first with a post as Barrault's musical director and then with brief engagements with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic. Since the mid-1970s, Boulez has concentrated on his work as director of the Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM), a computer studio in Paris where he composes mostly for ensembles of computer generated sound and orchestra.