A salute to Pierre Boulez, on his 97th birthday

When Pierre Boulez (1925-2016) first appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1969, he was famous as a revolutionary composer, and he already was building a reputation as an unusually insightful conductor. By the time he returned to the Chicago Symphony in 1987 and then began his annual residencies with the orchestra starting in 1991, he was acknowledged as one of the revelatory conductors of his time. Over his years with the CSO, Boulez transformed repertory standards, dusted off concert rarities and introduced works by then-unknown composers.

Boulez, whose last titled CSO post was Helen Regenstein Conductor Emeritus, also made many acclaimed recordings with the orchestra, including several that won Grammy Awards. Some of his CSO sessions are showcased on the Deutsche Grammophon set “Boulez: Great Recordings” (2020). His last Grammy nomination with the CSO was for the CSO Resound release in 2010 of Stravinsky’s Pulcinella.

To mark what would have been his 97th birthday on March 26, here’s a Spotify sampling of his CSO discography.