Pierre Boulez (1925–2016), initially initially studied mathematics before deciding, at the age of 17, to devote himself entirely to music. After studying with Olivier Messiaen and with René Leibowitz, who acquainted him with Schoenberg's twelve-tone technique, he introduced himself as a composer with Douze Notations (1945) and two piano sonatas (1946 and 1948), establishing his worldwide reputation above all with the world première in Baden-Baden of his chamber cantata Le Marteau sans Maître (1955). Over the next few years, his career as a conductor took up more and more of his time, culminating in his performances of Parsifal (1966-70) and the Ring (1976-80) at Bayreuth and his appointment as musical director of the BBC Symphony Orchestra (1960-72) and the New York Philharmonic (1971-75). From 1976 to 1991 he then served as director of IRCAM, the research institute for contemporary music that he founded at the Pompidou Center, and of the Ensemble intercontemporain (1976-91) in Paris. As part of this work, he developed a new compositional style based on expanded technologies; examples of this can be found in Répons and Dialogue de l’Ombre double. Since the beginning of the 1990s, Boulez began to turn his attention once again increasingly to conducting, leading such orchestras as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics, and the Staatskapelle Berlin. In the summers of 2004 and 2005, he again conducted Parsifal at the Bayreuth Festival, and, in 2007, Janácek's From the House of the Dead at the Vienna Festival. In 2004 he founded the Lucerne Festival Academy, Lucerne’s Master School for new music, which he directed every summer till 2015. Among the numerous distinctions Pierre Boulez has garnered are the Siemens Music Award, the Praemium Imperiale, the Theodor W. Adorno Award, the Kyoto Award, and the Adenauer de Gaulle Award.

Lucerne Festival (IMF) debut on 4 September 1975 conducting the New York Philharmonic in Mahler’s Ninth Symphony. Last appearance in September 2011 with the Orchestra of the Lucerne Festival Academy in works by Schoenberg, Berg, and Boulez.