The first woman to win the coveted Grand Prix de Rome in its 110 year history - Lili Boulanger (1893 - 1918) caused a stir in the parisian music scene. She was only 19 and came from a
well-known and respected musician family. Her sister Nadia Boulanger is perhaps the best known member of the family, she was a famed composition teacher to almost every important composer of the
20th century, including Aaron Copland or Leonard Bernstein.
The win of the Grand Prix secured Lili a stay at Villa Medici in Rome, as well as international recognition as a composer, a goal she had worked for since a very young age. Her health was
fragile, and she started to write frantically when doctors told her she had only a few years left.
Australian composer Thomas Goss presents one of Lili Boulanger’s works in a video series, he presents it with a lot of respect for her sensibility in interweaving choir with orchestra, and her
attention to small orchestration detaiis. (I highly recommend any of his videos on his youtube
channel, by the way!)
Lili Boulanger died at just 25. Although she was in such fragile health, she managed to create a large body of work, which started to be rediscovered in the 1960ies.