At Pierre Boulez’s funeral service: ‘Beauty will save the world’

At Pierre Boulez’s funeral service: ‘Beauty will save the world’


norman lebrecht

January 14, 2016

boulez memorial4 marion kalter
photo (c) Marion Kalter/Lebrecht Music&Arts

The memorial service for Pierre Boulez in Paris was attended this afternoon by the French prime minister Manuel Valls, the culture minister Fleur Pellerin and others from across the political spectrum.

The musician Daniel Barenboim spoke of Boulez’s legacy as a man of the future interested in many things beyond music.

barenboim at boulez funeral

photo: Suzanne Giroud

Laurent Bayle, president of the Philharmonie de Paris, recalled Boulez’ creative achievements including Boulez’s lifelong disdain for “les invalides de la nostalgie”.  The most moving and evocative homage was delivered ex tempore by the architect Renzo Piano, recalling Boulez’s lifelong search for beauty: “Beauty will save the world.”

boulez memorial 3boulez memorial2


  • Marc-Antoine Hamet says:

    Pierre Boulez’s music was played by members of the Ensemble Intercontemporain: Dialogue de l’ombre double for clarinet), Mémoriale (for flute and instruments) and Anthèmes (for violin).
    Apparition de l’Eglise Eternelle, for organ, by Messiaen.
    Schönberg’s Farben op.16 n°3, transcribed for choir (Accentus Chamber Choir conducted by Laurence Equilbey)
    And to cap it all… Bach’s Prelude and Fugue BWV 544 (for organ)

    Yes, Renzo Piano was very moving.

    • jaypee says:

      So, not only are you the Dear Leader of Good Taste in Music, but it seems that you’re also an expert on architecture.
      Tell us, JB, is there any field where you’re not an absolute master?
      Sorry, let me rephrase that: is there any field where *you don’t think* you’re an absolute master?

      It’s obvious that your ego has replaced your self-pride and your dignity.

      • John Borstlap says:

        As mr B’s PR staff members, we have asked him whether there were ‘any field where he didn’t think he were an absolute master’, and after two days he shifted a short note under the library’s door with the text: ‘I will have to think about it, but first I have to finish this chapter in Montesquieu on the natural limitations of man’. This morning we got the answer: ‘I am an absolute failure in the field of estimating and understanding the resentment, jealousy and bad manners that bubble-up in people towards the possibilities of self-improvement. Also I never ever could understand the basic rules of hockey, in spite of a brilliant young coach who spent 5 full hours, over various pints of beer, to find an opening in my closed, dumb mind to let the light of this noble sport into the darkness of elitism.’

        There was more, but we thought it unwise to disclose more inabilities of our employer which could harm his contacts in the music world. And we considered the fate of the cook, now that we have to order meals from the village pizzeria.

  • Peter Heiman says:

    I first met Pierre Boulez 53 years ago when he was a lecturer at Harvard, not yet known as a conductor. He was a true genius and a true mensch.
    Where was the memorial held? Not at the opera house, I should think.

  • Peter says:

    “Beauty will save the world”.

    NO, definitely not, Sir. Only LOVE will save the world.

    I’m thinking about AH enjoying a beautiful Meistersinger Prelude in Staatsoper, while in Birkenau the ovens work 24/7 at full capacity…

    • Ppellay says:

      Oh, please! A world like ours is too complex to be saved by just one thing. Beauty would play a role, so PB wasn’t altogether on the wrong path. So would love. Truth and Intelligence, too. And many more. Anyone else like to chip in with some of them? Cynics need not apply.

      • Peter says:

        Ultimately, I believe you are wrong. Truth, intelligence, beauty, all nice to have, helpful, best case, deceptive or irrelevant, worst case. Essential is only one, love, compassion, empathy, all the same.
        Only that can save the world, nothing else. “Just one thing”. As if it was about quantity…

        • Ppellay says:

          No, ultimately the world will save itself as it always has. It’s humanity that needs all these things – we’re not the whole world, we’re just a part of it, and as dispensable a part as the dinosaurs were. And if the human condition’s become too complex for our own good, we have only ourselves to blame. For all that, we’re not done for yet. Hell, next to the dinosaurs, we’re just getting started………

          • Peter says:

            Ah well, you wanted to find a fault with my argument. I should have said the human condition instead of world. Peace.

  • Joel V. says:

    Renzo Piano was quoting Dostoyevski. I often quote this phrase.

  • Milka says:

    And a “feel good ” time was had by all , then back without missing a beat to cultivating the
    usual BS , PPellay& Peters’ dreary insights not withstanding .

    • Peter says:

      In all uncertainty in this mortal world, ones thing is certain. Your misanthropy and bitterness is not going to save it for sure.

    • Ppellay says:

      Oh, change the record already, you’re drearier than Philip Glass!

      • Milka says:

        It is with amusement one reads how certain people seemingly from the dark ages are out
        to save the world with truth, beauty, and love etc . meanwhile the world passes them by
        without a nod…what are they saving the world from is the question ??????
        About changing the record the endless BS about truth , beauty love would be a good place
        to start . Astonishingly PPellay has come across the name Philip Glass !!!! he may yet
        advance to the age of enlightenment but it seems unlikely.

  • K. Williams says:

    All my ♥♥♥ for Pierre Boulez, who left us with much beauty.