PRINCIPAL GUEST CONDUCTOR (1995–2006)
HELEN REGENSTEIN CONDUCTOR EMERITUS (2006–2016)
Born in 1925 in Montbrison, France, Pierre Boulez initially trained in mathematics and later pursued studies in piano, composition and choral conducting at the Paris Conservatory. Boulez began his conducting career in 1958 with the Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra in Baden-Baden, Germany. His success there brought him to the Cleveland Orchestra in 1965, where he held posts as principal guest conductor and musical advisor from 1969 until 1972. In 1971, he became chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra and succeeded Leonard Bernstein as music director of the New York Philharmonic.
Pierre Boulez made his debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in February 1969, leading two weeks of subscription concerts. he first week included the subscription-concert debut of Daniel Barenboim as soloist in Bartók’s First Piano Concerto and the second week included Jacqueline du Pré as soloist in Schumann’s Cello Concerto along with the U.S. premiere of Boulez’s Livre pour cordes. He returned as guest conductor in 1987 and began appearing annually in Chicago in 1991. In 1995, he was invited by Daniel Barenboim to become the Orchestra’s third principal guest conductor; in 2006, he became its Helen Regenstein Conductor Emeritus.
Boulez won 26 Grammy® Awards from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences as both conductor and composer. Eight of his Grammys were for recordings with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. He received the Recording Academy's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015.
Pierre Boulez died on January 5, 2016, at the age of 90.