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International Women’s Day and the Boulanger Sisters

by sarah - March 8th, 2014.
Filed under: women composers, women's history month. Tagged as: , .

Today is International Women’s Day!  And to celebrate, today’s post is about two sisters who made an international impression during their lives, and after.

Lili Boulanger (1893-1918) and Nadia Boulanger (1887-1979) were French natives, and  sisters who were born into a musical family and  greatly supported by their parents in their musical endeavors.  Even from a very young age, Lili would tag along with Nadia for her courses at the Paris Conservatory.  They both competed in the Prix de Rome, and in 1913 Lili became the first woman to win the distinguished prize.

Both sisters composed, but Nadia never felt she had a particular talent as a composer and always lauded her sister’s works—in particular, after Lili’s untimely death at age 24.

Nadia is remembered today as a conductor and educator.  She was the first woman to conduct several American and European orchestras  (including Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and the BBC Symphony), and taught composition to some of the greatest musical voices of the 20th century, including: Aaron Copland, Elliot Carter, and Philip Glass.

Here’s a piece from Lili:

 

And a piece from Nadia:

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