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Pierre Boulez dead: French composer dies at 90

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Herve GLOAGUEN/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Famed French composer and conductor Pierre Boulez died Tuesday at his home in Baden-Baden, Germany, his family confirmed in a statement to the Philharmonie de Paris. He was 90.

Boulez was as massive part of global classical music in the twentieth century, and was a conductor with some of the best orchestras in the world, appearing with Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, the Berlin Philharmonic, and the Cleveland Orchestra.

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In 1971, he became the music director of both the New York Philharmonic and the BBC Symphony Orchestra in London, though he only stayed in New York for six years. In November of last year he was honored for his overlooked work in New York in a series of concerts in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Boulez spent most of his later career in France, where he was invited to found a contemporary music center Institute for the Research and Coordination of Acoustics and Music, now known as IRCAM.

His work extended to pop music as well, and in 1984 he worked with Frank Zappa to produce an album, Boulez Conducts Zappa: The Perfect Stranger. Over the course of his long career, Boulez won 26 Grammys.

After his death, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said, “Audacity, innovation, creativity — that is what Pierre Boulez was for French music, which he helped shine everywhere in the world.” French president François Hollande said, per the Guardian, “Pierre Boulez made French music shine throughout the world. As a composer and conductor, he always wanted to reflect on the ages.”