Pierre Boulez, one of the greatest composers and conductors of his time, has died at age 90. Boulez's family have confirmed that he died on Tuesday at his home in Germany.
Born in France in 1925, Boulez emerged in the postwar era as a leading light of a generation of avant-garde composers who bridged the transformative leaps of the early 20th century with the post-modern eclecticism of the century's end. Intellectually formidable and aesthetically unapologetic, he was a resolute torchbearer of modern music.
By the 1960s, Boulez was also acclaimed as a conductor; the next half-century saw him continue an increasingly distinguished career with music directorships including a stint at the New York Philharmonic, where he succeeded Leonard Bernstein.
A well-travelled and articulate polymath, Boulez "never ceased to think about subjects in relation to one another; he made painting, poetry, architecture, cinema and music communicate with each other, always in the service of a more humane society," said French president François Hollande in a statement.
For more on this towering figure of classical music, listen to an episode of Composers Datebook featuring the music of Boulez and read Cinda Yager's essay "How I learned to love modern music."