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Profile of Nadia Boulanger

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Born:

Sept. 16, 1887, she was born into a musically talented family. Her grandmother, Juliette Boulanger, was a singer and her grandfather, Frédérick Boulanger, played the violoncello. Her father, Ernest Boulanger, was a voice teacher at the Paris Conservatory, it is there where he met, taught and later married Raissa Myschetsky. Nadia's sister, Lili Boulanger, was a celebrated composer.

Birthplace:

Paris, France

Died:

October 22, 1979 in Paris

Also Known As:

Her full name was Nadia Juliette Boulanger. She was a respected teacher of musical composition, organist and conductor of the 20th century. Aaron Copland was one of her students and at the premiere of Copland's Symphony for Organ and Orchestra in 1925, Boulanger was the organist.

Type of Compositions:

In 1908 Boulanger's cantata La Sirène placed second in the Prix de Rome competition. Nadia and her sister, Lili who was 6 years younger, were close. Nadia was instrumental in her sister's success as a composer. When Lili died in 1918, Nadia decided to stop composing and instead focused her attention to teaching and conducting.

Influence:

Her father, Ernest Boulanger, was one of her main influences as well as her mother, Raissa Myschetsky, who taught her the importance of discipline. She entered the Paris Conservatory when she was 10, studying there from 1897 to 1904. She studied organ with Charles-Marie Widor and composition with Gabriel Fauré. The pianist Raoul Pugno was one of her friends with whom she performed and collaborated with. She was also friends with Walter Damrosch, conductor of the New York Symphony Orchestra who assisted Boulanger on her first trip to the U.S.

Contributions to Music:

Boulanger is primarily known as one of the most influential musical composition teachers of the 20th century. She also brought attention to works of other composers such as Heinrich Schütz and Claudio Monteverdi by performing or recording their works.

Interesting Fact:

Boulanger taught at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore and at the Washington College of Music. In 1937, she became the first woman to conduct a program in its entirety with London's Royal Philharmonic. A year later, Boulanger became the first woman to conduct the New York Philharmonic orchestra, as well as the Boston and Philadelphia orchestras. In 1949, she became director of the American Conservatory at Fontainebleau. Boulanger and Igor Stravinsky were friends and she considered him one of the greatest composers of the 20th century.

Famous Students:

Aside from Aaron Copland, some of her well-known students were Philip Glass, Qunicy Jones, Marc Blitzstein, Elliott Carter and Virgil Thomson.

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