Digital resources for French Romantic music

BOULANGER, Nadia (1887-1979)

As precocious as her younger sister Lili, Nadia Boulanger entered the Paris Conservatoire at the age of ten, where she studied harmony with Vidal, composition with Widor and Fauré, and the organ with Vierne and Guilmant. Her cantata La Sirène won her a Second Prix de Rome in 1908. In 1912, she composed a Fantaisie variée pour piano et orchestre for Raoul Pugno, a pianist and composer with whom she wrote Les Heures claires (mélodies after Verhaeren, 1909) and La Ville morte (an opera to a libretto by D’Annunzio, 1910-13). This collaboration came to an end with Pugno’s death in 1914. Four years later, after losing Lili, whom she considered to be more gifted than herself, the composer laid down her pen for good. Although Nadia Boulanger may well have lacked confidence in her own talent, her scores (particularly the vocal settings of poems by Verlaine, Samain, Silvestre, Heine and Maeterlinck) certainly do not deserve so harsh a judgment. ‘Mademoiselle’, as she was called by her pupils, concentrated on teaching at the École Normale de Musique, the Paris Conservatoire and above all the Conservatoire Américain de Fontainebleau, of which she was one of the founding members in 1921 and director from 1948. As an organist and conductor, she performed the solo part in the premiere of Copland’s Symphony for Organ and Orchestra, and conducted the first performance of Stravinsky’s ‘Dumbarton Oaks’ Concerto. Boulanger also founded a vocal ensemble with which she revived works of early music. Her recording of Monteverdi madrigals, in 1937, confirmed the decisive role played by this pioneering woman.

    Images - 3
  • Nadia et Lili Boulanger
  • Les concurrents pour le grand prix de Rome de 1907 à Compiègne
  • Nadia Boulanger, Arsène Alexandre et Marc Delmas devant la grille du château de Compiègne
  • Works - 3
  • Heures claires, Les (N. Boulanger et R. Pugno)
  • Sirène, La (Adenis & Desveaux-Vérité / Nadia Boulanger)
  • Trois Pièces for cello and piano (Nadia Boulanger)
  • Theme - 1
  • Women composers
  • Documents - 2
  • Lettre de Nadia Boulanger à Henri Griset (s. d.)
  • Lettres à Marguerite Griset : Nadia Boulanger (s. d.)