Zappa composer Pierre Boulez dies at 90

Composer Pierre Boulez has died at his home in Baden-Baden, Germany.

The iconic maestro worked with Frank Zappa in 1984 on his classical album Boulez Conducts Zappa: The Perfect Stranger. Zappa, who had long wanted to perform classical music, sent Boulez several scores which resulted in the collaboration.

Boulez was born on March 26, 1925, in Montbrison, France. His father, a technical director at a steel works, wanted him to study engineering – but he chose to enrol in a music conservatory in Paris in 1942, having begun composing in his teens.

Boulez was widely hailed as a leading figure in classical music for his modern approach to composing, experimenting with different sounds and new technology in his work. He founded IRCAM in 1973, a Paris-based institute focused on music, acoustics and electronics, as well as conducting the New York Philharmonic and BBC Symphony Orchestra.

In a 2010 Gramophone interview, he said: “I don’t think music is an entertainment product. It’s a product of culture – not for marketing, but to enrich lives. All these years, I’ve been trying to convince people that music is not there to please them – it’s there to disturb them.”

Boulez was awarded 26 Grammys for his work and given a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Recording Academy.

French President Francois Hollande said in a statement: “Pierre Boulez made French music shine throughout the world. As a composer and conductor, he always wanted to reflect on his era.”

Boulez is survived by brother Roger, sister, Jeanne Chevalier, along with several nieces and nephews.

His family told the BBC: “For all those who met him and were able to appreciate his creative energy, his artistic vigour will remain alive and strong.”

Former TeamRock news desk member Christina joined our team in late 2015, and although her time working on online rock news was fairly brief, she made a huge impact by contributing close to 1500 stories. Christina also interviewed artists including Deftones frontman Chino Moreno and worked at the Download festival. In late 2016, Christina left rock journalism to pursue a career in current affairs. In 2021, she was named Local Weekly Feature Writer of the Year at the Scottish Press Awards.