Maurice Ravel serenading at the piano; dinner with Gabriel Fauré; a note of encouragement from Charles Widor: Lili Boulanger was born, on 21 August 1893, into an astonishingly privileged Parisian musical world. An aspiring composer could not fail to thrive in this environment, even with only a fraction of her talent, but that talent – allied to hard work and a canny professionalism – ensured she became the first woman to win the Prix de Rome, France’s most prestigious music prize.

Lili Boulanger

To reduce Boulanger’s story to her Prix de Rome triumph and her tragic early death at 24, as so often happens, distracts from a serious consideration of her at times ground-breaking music, and an honest appreciation of her professional ambition....

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