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Donald Macleod explores the productive years surrounding Lili Boulanger's pioneering victory at the Prix de Rome.

Donald Macleod explores the productive years surrounding Lili Boulanger's pioneering victory in the Prix de Rome.

As the first female winner, Lili Boulanger's success in France's most prestigious composing competition, in 1913, is a significant landmark in the history of overcoming gender discrimination. Artistically it identified her as one of the most outstanding composers of her generation, with the prospect of a great future ahead. Tragically she was not to have long to fulfil that expectancy. Having struggled with ill-health from the age of 2, she died in 1918 at the age of just 24, three weeks after Debussy, a composer from whom she derived much inspiration. Yet, despite the brevity of her life, Boulanger's natural facility for composition and unwavering dedication to her craft provides us with a surprising number of predominantly vocal works.

Participating in the Prix de Rome was something of a family affair. Some years earlier Lili's father, Ernest had won the prize and in 1908 her elder sister Nadia had come a very creditable second. Following in their footsteps, Lili committed herself to the task fully and was rewarded, when, having mastered all the strict competition requirements, her cantata Faust et Hélène, which she dedicated to her sister Nadia, completely won over the jury.

Psaume 24
Chorale Elisabeth Brasseur
Lamoureux Orchestra
Igor Markevitch, conductor

Les Sirènes
Amanda Pitt, soprano
The New London Chamber Choir
Andrew Ball, piano
James Wood, conductor

Renouveau
Amanda Pitt, soprano
Jeanette Ager, mezzo soprano
Martyn Hill, tenor
New London Chamber Choir
Andrew Ball, piano

Faust et Hélène
Lynne Dawson, soprano
Bonaventura Bottone, tenor
Jason Howard, bass
BBC Philharmonic
Yan Pascal Tortelier, conductor

Nocturne
Janine Jenson, violin
Itamar Golan, piano

Producer: Johannah Smith for BBC Wales.

59 minutes

On radio

Mon 10 Jun 2019 12:00

Music Played

  • Lili Boulanger

    Psalm 24

    Choir: Elisabeth Brasseur Chorale. Orchestra: Orchestre Lamoureux. Conductor: Igor Markevich.
    • Everest.
    • Everest.
    • 3.
  • Lili Boulanger

    Les Sirenes For Soprano, Chorus & Piano

    Performer: Andrew Ball. Singer: Amanda Pitt. Conductor: James Wood. Choir: New London Chamber Choir.
    • Hyperion Helios CDH55153.
    • Hyperion Helios.
    • 14.
  • Lili Boulanger

    Renouveau

    Performer: Andrew Ball. Singer: Amanda Pitt. Singer: Jeanette Ager. Singer: Martyn Hill. Choir: New London Chamber Choir.
    • Lili Boulanger Clairieres dans le ciel.
    • Hyperion Helios.
    • 15.
  • Lili Boulanger

    Faust Et Helene - Prix de Rome winning composition

    Orchestra: BBC Philharmonic. Conductor: Yan Pascal Tortelier. Singer: Lynne Dawson. Singer: Bonaventura Bottone. Singer: Jason Howard.
    • CHANDOS : CHAN-9745.
    • CHANDOS.
    • 2.
  • Lili Boulanger

    Nocturne

    Performer: Janine Jansen. Performer: Itamar Golan.
    • Beau Soir.
    • Decca.
    • 7.

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