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French composer and conductor Pierre Boulez had a reputation as a hardcore modernist steeped in the dissonances of 20th-century music.Born in Montbrison, France, on March 26, 1925, Boulez travelled a long path from avant-garde composer to recording star who won 26 Grammy awards.A pragmatic conductor, Boulez ranged well beyond the strict confines of modernism, often favoring Romantic audience favorites such as Bruckner, Mahler and Wagner. In a 2010 interview with Philip Clark for the classical music publication Gramophone, Boulez couldn't conceal his lack of interest in the more conventional music of American composer Aaron Copland, terming it "folklore and dance".As a youth Boulez initially studied mathematics, preparing for a technical education, before turning to music.He studied harmony at the Paris Conservatory with composer Olivier Messiaen and had lessons from Rene Leibowitz in the dissonant 20th-century style known as 12-tone composition.
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