Pierre Boulez (born March 26, 1925) is a conductor and composer of classical music. He was born in Montbrison, France. He studied music at the Paris Conservatoire under Olivier Messiaen and Andrée Vaurabourg (Arthur Honegger's wife). He went on to write music in a post-Webernian serial style, serialising not only the pitches of notes, but also the durations, dynamics, accents, and so on. In later years, he experimented with aleatoric music (the use of chance) and made pioneering advances in classical electronic music and computer music. His music is often described as dryly academic, without emotional content, but Boulez argues that it only sounds unemotional to somebody who does not understand the musical language it is written in.
In 1970 President Georges Pompidou asked him to create and direct an institution for the exploration and development of modern music. He remained director of the IRCAM until 1992. As of 2003 he still has an office in the IRCAM.
Boulez is also a noted conductor, especially in ground breaking works from the first half of the 20th century, for example the works of Gustav Mahler, Béla Bartók, Anton Webern and Edgar Varèse.