Here's another interview with Pierre Boulez including his inevitable sign-off line:
That is why, if I am healthy enough, I will now devote my time to compose (sic).
I'm sorry, but he's now publicly made this promise to retire from the podium and spend his full-time composing for just about the n-thousandth time in the past 40 years, and boys crying wolf do not get more believable with repetition. Leonard Bernstein was also famous making the same un-kept plan (and more recently Lorin Maazel has made similar announcements of intentions to abandon conducting for composing which he has similarly not kept, instead just moving on to the next music directorship.) Let's face it, the primary gig for these gents is conducting. They get paid very well for it, people like to see them on the stage, orchestras like working with them, and they actually appear to enjoy making music with high quality bands all around the world. Agonizing alone in a garret over a score is a different experience altogether. With Boulez, as with Bernstein, composing is a sideline, and there's nothing wrong with that. Blaming a successful conducting career for any faults in ones composing — whether of quality or of quantity — just doesn't wash.
So when Boulez compains about the work of colleagues like this:
But it represents creative exhaustion. If you spend a whole piece repeating just one chord [as Glass tends to do] it's like being in a red room, and staying in it for your whole life.
It is entirely keeping with the same spirit of criticism to ask if a career spent working with a handful of techniques developed in the 1950s — and saturated with those 0 1 6 chords — is also a lot like being stuck in a (insert your color here) room for a goddamn long time. While Boulez's music has certainly gained some polish over the years — and his practical experience with orchestras was certainly responsible for much of this polish — it is a perfectly legitimate question to wonder about the lack of development on a deeper musical and intellectual level in Boulez's music. And no, the interference of a conducting career is not an excuse. That stack of Get Out Of Jail Free cards ran out a long time ago.