Lili Boulanger

Lili Boulanger was a French composer that few people have heard of.  Having studied at the Paris Conservatoire since the age of 10, in 1913, aged just 19, she won the musical composition category of the Prix de Rome. She was the first woman to win this coveted prize, and shares the accolade with Debussy, Ibert and Massenet.  Her sister, the renowned composer and teacher Nadia Boulanger (who numbered Bernstein, Copland and Philip Glass amongst her pupils) said that Lili left 'a short but lasting mark in musical history'.  

Peter is delighted to be conducting one of her orchestral pieces (D'un soir triste) in a concert on 3rd November in London.  It's a wonderfully evocative piece, with deeply searching and surprising harmonies, with many parallel fifths which give it a slightly medieval flavour.  

Lili was greatly affected by her beloved father's death when she was just seven - perhaps there is something of her feelings towards him in this deeply moving piece.  There is movement of sheer heartfelt delight at the end as she resolves the piece in the (most unexpected) major, perhaps speaking of her own resolution in the light of his death and also in the light of the illness which brought her own death just weeks later.  Nadia wrote 'Towards the end of her life, she dictated to me her Pie Jesu. On her deathbed, her strong faith gave her a sense of serenity'.

Details of the concert are here: