Hyperion Records

Boulanger, Lili (1893-1918)  

Lili Boulanger

born: 21 August 1893
died: 15 March 1918
country: France

A child prodigy, Boulanger's talent was apparent even at the age of two, spotted by her parents, both of whom were musicians themselves and encouraged their daughter's musical education. (Her mother, Raissa Myshetskaya (Mischetzky), was a Russian princess, who married her Paris Conservatoire teacher, Ernest Boulanger; grandfather Frédéric Boulanger had been a noted cellist, and grandmother Juliette a singer.) Boulanger accompanied the ten-year-old Nadia to classes at the Paris Conservatoire before she was five, shortly thereafter sitting in on classes on music theory and studying organ with Louis Vierne; she also sang and played piano, violin, cello, and harp. In 1913, at the age of 19, she won the Prix de Rome for her Faust et Hélène, becoming the first woman composer to win the prize; Nadia had given up entering after four unsuccessful attempts and had focused her efforts upon guiding her sister.

Lili, first a student of Nadia and then of Paul Vidal, Georges Caussade, and Gabriel Fauré—the last of which who was greatly impressed by the young woman's talents and frequently brought songs for her to read— was greatly affected by the 1899 death of her father; many of her works touch on themes of grief and loss. Her work was noted for its colorful harmony and instrumentation and skillful text setting; aspects of Fauré and Claude Debussy can be seen in her compositions, and Arthur Honegger was one composer influenced by her innovative work. Jazz pianist Herbie Hancock has said she is one of his favorite composers.

Her life and work were troubled by chronic illness, beginning with a case of bronchial pneumonia at age two that weakened her immune system, leading to the intestinal tuberculosis (now called Crohn's Disease) that cut short her life at age 24. Though she loved travel, completing several works in Italy after winning the Prix de Rome, her failing health forced her to return home, where she and Nadia organized efforts to support French soldiers in World War I. Her last years were also a productive time musically as she labored to complete works previously left unfinished. Boulanger was buried in Paris, in the Cimetière de Montmartre, leaving unfinished the opera La princesse Maleine on which she spent most of the last years of her life.

Albums
'Boulanger: Clairières dans le ciel & other works' (CDH55153)
Boulanger: Clairières dans le ciel & other works
MP3 £4.99FLAC £4.99ALAC £4.99Buy by post £5.50 CDH55153  Helios (Hyperion's budget label)  
Complete works available for download
Clairières dans le ciel Martyn Hill (tenor), Andrew Ball (piano)
Hymne au soleil New London Chamber Choir, James Wood (conductor)
Les sirènes New London Chamber Choir, James Wood (conductor), Amanda Pitt (soprano)
Pour les funérailles d'un soldat New London Chamber Choir, James Wood (conductor)
Renouveau Amanda Pitt (soprano), Jeanette Ager (mezzo-soprano), Martyn Hill (tenor), Andrew Ball (piano)
Soir sur la plaine New London Chamber Choir, James Wood (conductor), Martyn Hill (tenor)
Alphabetical listing of all musical works
Au pied de mon lit  No 5 of Clairières dans le ciel (Boulanger)
Clairières dans le ciel (Boulanger)
Demain fera un an  No 13 of Clairières dans le ciel (Boulanger)
Deux ancolies  No 10 of Clairières dans le ciel (Boulanger)
Elle est gravement gaie  No 2 of Clairières dans le ciel (Boulanger)
Elle était descendue au bas de la prairie  No 1 of Clairières dans le ciel (Boulanger)
Hymne au soleil (Boulanger)
Je garde une médaille d'elle  No 12 of Clairières dans le ciel (Boulanger)
Les lilas qui avaient fleuri  No 9 of Clairières dans le ciel (Boulanger)
Les sirènes (Boulanger)
Nous nous aimerons tant  No 7 of Clairières dans le ciel (Boulanger)
Par ce que j'ai souffert  No 11 of Clairières dans le ciel (Boulanger)
Parfois, je suis triste  No 3 of Clairières dans le ciel (Boulanger)
Pour les funérailles d'un soldat (Boulanger)
Renouveau (Boulanger)
Si tout ceci n'est qu'un pauvre rêve  No 6 of Clairières dans le ciel (Boulanger)
Soir sur la plaine (Boulanger)
Un poète disait  No 4 of Clairières dans le ciel (Boulanger)
Vous m'avez regardé avec toute votre âme  No 8 of Clairières dans le ciel (Boulanger)
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