With the death of Pierre Boulez, the Berliner Philharmoniker have lost a long-time musical partner and close friend. As a conductor, Boulez appeared with the orchestra from 1961 onwards and was one of its most frequent guests from the 1990s. The focus of these appearances was on early 20th century works, especially by Bartók, Ravel, Debussy, Stravinsky, Berg and Webern. One particular highlight was his appearance at the European Concert of the Berliner Philharmoniker in the Jeronimos Monastery in Lisbon in 2003 which was broadcast internationally on television. As a composer, Pierre Boulez was of extraordinary significance for the Berliner Philharmoniker. The Berliner Philharmoniker regularly performed Boulezʼ works, and not only for his guest appearances. For example, his Notations for orchestra were included in the Asian tour programme with Sir Simon Rattle in 2013. The special bond between Pierre Boulez and the Berliner Philharmoniker was also demonstrated in a joint concert in celebration of Boulezʼ 80th birthday in 2005.
“Superior mental strength”
Ulrich Knörzer, a member of the orchestra board: “With the death of Pierre Boulez, we mourn the passing of an artist who combined unerring ingenuity with great personal kindness. His superior mental strength was also evident in his own compositions which impressed listeners by their intelligent design as well as by their sensual colours. In works of classical modernism which he very often conducted with us, he made a restrained impression on the podium without overloaded gestures. Since he himself was a composer, he had endless confidence in the score on the one hand and in us, the musicians, on the other. Looking back on the many concerts we gave together, this confidence fills us with enormous gratitude.” Sir Simon Rattle pays tribute to the deceased in the following words: “A great composer, magnificent conductor, and a funny, wise, generous man. How much we have all learnt from him and how he changed the way we hear music… The world of music is suddenly diminished without his presence.”