It’s easy for us now to appreciate the genius of Pierre Boulez as we look back on his career…but how was he received near the beginning of his career? The Guardian reprinted a review from 50 years ago:

5 September 1965: The Observer’s Peter Heyworth writes about Pierre Boulez after a performance at the 1965 Edinburgh festival

In some ways Lord Harewood’s last hour at Edinburgh has been his finest, for one of the central themes of his final festival has been the music of Pierre Boulez. To have brought this fountainhead of the avant-garde to Edinburgh and to have presented an unprecedented range of his fascinating yet bewildering compositions was an act of courage and perspicacity of the sort that is all too rare in our musical life (viz., the enervating mists of the oncoming London concert season).

Why Boulez and why the excitement? For those of us who have over the past week had the good fortune to encounter him as composer, conductor and pianist, on TV and at a Press conference, these questions need no answer. It is not hard to see how so superbly equipped a musician, a mind so penetrating and wittily incisive and a character that carries such effortless authority has come to assume a commanding position in the musical avant-garde.