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The power of sisterhood

Donald Macleod considers the artistic significance of the relationship between Lili Boulanger and her elder sister Nadia, and Boulanger's only song cycle, Clairieres dans le Ciel.

Donald Macleod considers the artistic significance of the relationship between Lili Boulanger and her elder sister Nadia, and features Boulanger's only song cycle, Clairieres dans le Ciel.

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.

Nadia was an important figure in Lili Boulanger's life. It had been inculcated by their parents at an early age that Nadia must bear responsibility for her younger sister. It was a role she fulfilled not only throughout Lili's life, but also after her early death in 1918, as she continued to promote Lili's music until her own death in 1979.

Hymne au soleil
Jeanette Ager, mezzo soprano
New London Chamber Choir
James Woods, conductor
Andrew Ball, piano
Ian Townsend, piano third hand

D'un vieux jardin
D'un jardin clair
Alain Jacquon, piano

Clairières dans le Çiel
Nicky Spence, tenor
Malcolm Martineau, piano

Psalm 129
Chorale Elisabeth Brasseur
Orchestre Lamoureux
Igor Markevitch, conductor

Producer: Johannah Smith for BBC Wales.

1 hour

Music Played

  • Lili Boulanger

    Hymne Au Soleil

    Performer: Andrew Ball. Performer: Ian Townsend. Choir: New London Chamber Choir. Conductor: James Wood. Singer: Jeanette Ager.
    • HYPERION : CDA-667 26.
    • HYPERION.
    • 16.
  • Lili Boulanger

    D'Un Vieux Jardin

    Performer: Alain Jacquon.
    • Lili Boulanger Songs.
    • Timpani.
    • 1.
  • Lili Boulanger

    D'Un Jardin Clair For Piano

    Performer: Alain Jacquon.
    • Lili Boulanger Songs.
    • Timpani.
    • 1.
  • Lili Boulanger

    Clairieres Dans Le Ciel

    Performer: Malcolm Martineau. Singer: Nicky Spence.
    • Lili Boulanger.
    • Chandos.
    • 4.
  • Lili Boulanger

    Psalm 129

    Choir: Elisabeth Brasseur Chorale. Conductor: Igor Markevitch. Orchestra: Orchestre Lamoureux.
    • Lili Boulanger Du fond de l'Abime etc..
    • Everest.
    • 3.

Broadcast

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