1893–1918

Lili Boulanger

Lili Boulanger had a tragically short life. She died at age 24 from intestinal tuberculosis, and spent much of her life in poor health, having contracted pneumonia as a toddler, which compromised her immune system. Still, in those 24 years she produced a wide variety of remarkable compositions, including many choral works and songs that show an imaginative approach to harmony. The two recordings on this site come from her remarkable cycle of thirteen songs, Clairières dans le ciel (Clearnings in the Sky). Along with her sister Nadia, Lili Boulanger grew up in a musical family and her talents were recognized early. Scholars and performers are now recognizing her talents as well, and her works are entering the public consciousness—but she deserves to be heard more widely.  

Additional Resources

Lili Boulanger has received far less scholarly attention than her sister Nadia, but here are a few useful resources:

Did you know?

Lili Boulanger was the first woman to be awarded the prestigious Prix de Rome composition prize, which she won in 1913 for her cantata Faust et Hélène.

Video Recordings

Tenor Nicholas Phan and pianist Myra Huang perform Boulanger’s “Nous nous aimerons tant,” from the song cycle Clairières dans le ciel (1913–14). The recording was made as part of the Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago’s 2020 Collaborative Works Festival (caichicago.org).
Tenor Nicholas Phan and pianist Myra Huang perform Boulanger’s “Elle était descendue,” from the song cycle Clairières dans le ciel (1913–14). The recording was made as part of the Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago’s 2020 Collaborative Works Festival (caichicago.org).

Accessing Scores

Most of Lili Boulanger’s scores are available via the International Music Score Library project (IMSLP).

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