US orchestras dedicate concerts to 'towering' Boulez

6th January 2016, Comments 0 comments

Top US orchestras on Wednesday dedicated performances to late conductor and composer Pierre Boulez, with his successor at the New York Philharmonic calling him a "towering" figure in music.

The French composer, an arch-modernist who defied traditional structures and was widely considered one of the past century's greatest figures in classical music, died Tuesday at age 90, according to his family.

While renowned in France, Boulez settled eventually in Germany and had a long history in the United States where he arrived in 1970 at the Cleveland Orchestra and served as music director of the New York Philharmonic from 1971 to 1977.

The New York Philharmonic's current music director Alan Gilbert, who worked with Boulez in Cleveland, called him an "unfailingly gracious mentor and friend."

"Pierre Boulez was a towering and influential musical figure whose Philharmonic leadership implicitly laid down a challenge of innovation and invention that continues to inspire us to this day," he said in a statement.

The Philharmonic -- which just weeks ago mourned another of its celebrated conductors, Kurt Masur -- said it would dedicate this week's concerts which feature works of Sibelius, Richard Strauss and Wagner to Boulez's memory.

The Cleveland Orchestra released a video medley of segments from a 90th birthday concert last year in honor of Boulez, who had led the institution in more than 220 performances.

Boulez "has created a peerless legacy of great music, new music and unrivaled music-making," it said.

The Boston Symphony Orchestra observed a minute of silence at rehearsal Wednesday with visiting French conductor Francois-Xavier Roth.

"The greatest composer of our time is gone. Thank you, Pierre Boulez," Roth wrote on Twitter.

With his long dominance in classical categories, Boulez had won 26 Grammys, the most prestigious award of the US-based music industry, and was saluted with a lifetime achievement award last year.

The Recording Academy in a statement called Boulez "a remarkable talent as a classical composer, conductor and deep thinker about music."

"He was active well into his 80s, and his inquisitive approach to music influenced many who followed him," it said.

© 2016 AFP

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