Lili Boulanger, Fotografie von Henri Manuel, 1913 (gemeinfrei)

Lili Boulanger: A tribute to a well-known French composer and pianist

Lili Boulanger lived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and is still considered one of the best-known French composers and pianists. She was the younger sister of the famous conductor and teacher Nadia Boulanger and was one of the first female composers to achieve international success. Although she wrote few works in her short life due to her illness, her compositions, particularly her vocal works, are of remarkable quality and were already considered by many contemporaries to be seminal for their time. Born in Paris in 1893, she began playing the piano at the age of five. She received fundamental musical training from the most well-known composers of her time, including Gabriel Fauré, Paul Vidal and Louis Vierne.

Mainly vocal works were created under Boulanger's hand, including songs, cantatas and choral works. One of her most famous compositions is the cantata "Faust et Hélène", which she composed when she was only 19 years old. With this outstanding composition she was able to win the Prix de Rome in her early years. The work is based on a text by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and is often considered her most important composition. It shows her unique style of composition, which combines elements of Impressionism and Symbolism with traditional harmonic and formal structures.

Boulanger also wrote a number of songs, including the cycle "Clairières dans le ciel" (Clearings in the Sky). The songs are based on poems by her friend and mentor, the poet and writer Maurice Maeterlinck, and demonstrate Boulanger's gift for setting lyrics and her ability to express complex emotional moods in her music.
Another notable vocal composition by Boulanger is "Pie Jesu", part of her unfinished Mass in A major. "Pie Jesu" is a touching and intimate work that demonstrates Boulanger's ability to express feelings of sadness and comfort through her music.

The composer had a major influence on the French music of her time and on the development of classical music in the 20th century. Her vocal works were considered by many to be groundbreaking and innovative, and influenced other composers such as Maurice Ravel and Claude Debussy. Her short life and limited number of compositions make her work all the more remarkable and contribute to her reputation as one of the pre-eminent female composers.

Although she died of a chronic illness at the age of only 24, she created a number of important works in her lifetime that are still performed and appreciated today:
Her vocal works demonstrate Boulanger's talent for setting lyrics to music and her ability to express complex emotional moods in her music. She was able to combine both traditional and modern elements in her music, creating her own unique compositional style. With this combination of old and new elements, her compositional style had a significant influence on the French music of her time and contributed to the development of Impressionism. She is also considered a remarkable personality of her time. She was one of the few women to gain recognition in the male-dominated world of classical music, and she used her position to encourage and support other women who also wanted to pursue a career in music. She founded a composition class for women and campaigned for their education and promotion.

Lili Boulanger's work made an important contribution to classical music history and her unique voice will be heard long after her death. The ipipapa team would like to commemorate this interesting personality on her 105th birthday.

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.