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For piano and violin (or flute)

Composed on 4 and 5 July 1914, on her return from Rome, Cortège was initially conceived by Lili Boulanger as a piano piece (“morceau pour piano”), intended to form part of the triptych entitled Trois Morceaux, together with D’un vieux jardin and D’un jardin clair. But an alternative version, for violin (or flute) and piano, appeared shortly afterwards, dedicated to the violinist Yvonne Astruc. This new version was premiered at the Petit Palais des Champs-Élysées on 17 December 1915 by the composer accompanied by the violinist Émile Mendels. Two years later, on 1 December 1917, Yvonne Astruc performed the work with Nadia Boulanger at the Salle Gaveau. It remained in their repertoire for a long time, and they recorded it together in the 1930s. The first edition of Cortège was published posthumously by Ricordi in 1919 (Lili Boulanger had died the previous year). Often performed (and sometimes published) together with the Nocturne for flute (or violin) and piano, this piece stands out among the young composer’s works for its joyful, carefree character. The cortège of the title refers to a procession, but not an austere religious one, as we might expect: here it appears to take place in a country setting in spring, and it follows an unrelenting pace which even gathers speed. In the 1920s Nadia Boulanger wrote a final version of her sister’s composition, this time for organ. In the hybrid piece Introduction et Cortège, premiered in Philadelphia in 1925, Nadia combined it with a transcription of an excerpt (“Le réveil de Faust”) from Lili’s cantata Faust et Hélène.


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