Olga Boulanger: A Musical Genius

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Marie-Juliette Olga Boulanger, better known as Lili Boulanger, was sister to Nadia Boulanger who is regard as one of the most influential pedagogues of the 20th century. Though Lili Boulanger's impact on the musical world maybe not have been as numerous as her sister's, it was not due to lack of talent but time: most of her life she lived with poor health and died at the age of 25 in 1918. In the short time she was alive, she became the first woman to receive the coveted Prix de Rome in 1913 for her cantata Faust et Hélène (1913). She also wrote many others works including, Les sirènes (1911) for choir, D'un matin de printemps (1917-18) for orchestra, and Pie Jesu (1918) for soprano, string quartet, harp, and organ, which she lovingly dedicated …show more content…
The original title for the work was La Flûte de Pan, it was changed to its current title when the work was finally published in 1927 and the reason the publishers made the change was to avoid confusion with an earlier work of Claude Debussy's by the same name. However, it must also be understood that there is some mixing of mythologies here: in the tale of Psyché she is a beautiful prince just wandering through on her troubled journey, whereas Syrinx is a nymph that runs from Pan and is turned into reeds by the river which he then cuts to make his flute. This distinction is important for the character of the piece, either an attractive melody wafting up from the ground in the former or a lamentation of lost love in the latter. The musical content of the work could both: there is a slow rhythmic profile with flourishes of quick notes, and a short melodic idea that is repeated and developed, all leading to a high point of either a sensuous passion or deepened anguish. Support for the former interpretation appears in the staging. The piece was meant to be performed off stage, reflecting the action in the scene, in this case the dialogue between two nymphs, one of which is reluctant to see or hear him but after convincing from the other exclaims at the end "O Pan, I no longer fear you, I am yours." He all the while is in the background in his grotto, which would also explain some of the repeated material as that of being echoes. The flutist who premiered the work, Louis Fleury, stayed true to this practice and anytime he would perform this piece in recitals he would do so hidden from the audience. Here is the scene from the

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