Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Nadia Boulanger

Today marks the anniversary of the birth of Nadia Boulanger, a pioneer in a traditionally male-dominated profession. Boulanger was a very successful music teacher, composer and conductor. The list of students she taught over her career is a "who's who" of 20th century musicians (at least 600 in the United States alone) - Burt Bacharach, Daniel Barenboim, Leonard Bernstein, Diane Bish, Jean Coulthard, Aaron Copeland, Phllip Glass, Quincy Jones, Thea Musgrave - all of whom went on to leave their mark on both the classical world or Hollywood.

She found great success at the podium as well as the first female to conduct the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the BBC Symphony Orchestra. She was a gifted pianist and so, while I didn't study any of her compositions, her name often came up over the course of university studies. She also was an important figure in the teaching of J.S. Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier, the bible of piano students the world over.