Boulez turns 85, still full of ideas for improving musical life

Posted on: March 29, 2010

“Pierre Boulez, everyone says, has mellowed,” writes Mark Swed in Sunday’s (3/28) Los Angeles Times. “A half-century ago, he was famed as a maestro with a frighteningly formidable ear, a French composer of frightfully formidable music and a polarizing polemicist. In the ‘50s, he accused the old tonal composers of being irrelevant. In the ‘60s, he proposed blowing up old-fashioned German opera houses as an elegant solution to their hostility toward producing modern work. But now Boulez is widely, warmly embraced. Having just turned 85 on Friday, he is no longer feared but feted as one of the great men of music … Boulez celebrated his birthday by conducting the Vienna Philharmonic in its ornate, historic home, the Austrian capital’s Musikverein. … He has plenty of new ideas about how to make musical life matter much more than it does. He is, for instance, sick and tired of concert halls that keep what he describes as restaurant hours. You arrive in the evening at 8 and leave at 10. He wants the halls open well before concerts and well after. And they should house media centers, where audiences can listen and learn about the music they will hear or have heard, especially when the concert involves new work.”

Posted March 29, 2010