Primarily known as a pedagogue, there was seemingly no end to the musical talents of Nadia Boulanger. She was prodigiously gifted in many areas. A true Renaissance woman, she not only advised and assisted many of the 20th-century’s finest composers and musicians, she composed, trained choirs and conducted, was an equally fine organist and pianist as well as being a perceptive critic and musicologist. Her EMI recordings from the 1930s featuring the likes of Cuenod and Lipatti have long been classics and the list of those who studied with her include the vast majority of America’s finest composers from Copland and Virgil Thomson to Philip Glass and even Quincy Jones, not to mention Piazzolla and Michel Legrand. Boulanger occupies a unique and multifaceted place in 20th century music.

During her period of study at the Conservatoire de Paris with Fauré and others, she was awarded five prizes and was second in the Prix de Rome before turning primarily to teaching and conducting. She was particularly associated with the Conservatoire Americain, which opened at Fontainebleau in 1921. Her first classes included Aaron Copland and many of his fellow countrymen would follow him there – particularly from the 1940s onwards. As well...

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