Tribute to Nadia Boulanger
Jean Françaix, String Trio in C Major
I. Allegretto Vivo
IV. Rondo Vivo
Igor Stravinsky, Three pieces for string quartet (1914)
Aaron Copland, Movement for string quartet
Gabriel Fauré, Piano Quintet num.2 op. 115
I. Allegro moderato
II. Allegro vivo
III. Andante moderato
IV. Allegro Molto
Kairós Project presents the “Tribute to Nadia Boulanger” program for the 20/21 season.
Nadia Boulanger is a cultural icon worshiped by the greatest musicians of the XXth century. She is a key figure in the musical transition from XIXth to XXth century music. She developed her own particular school, in which she was the only teacher, attended by the most talented musicians of that period. Her only goal in her teaching was to provide her pupils with the necessary knowledge to develop their talent.
This tribute-program has been designed to present four of the most important artists in the musical and personal life of Nadia Boulanger. She took a great interest in promoting the careers of these musicians.
Gabriel Fauré was an idol to Nadia Boulanger, a mentor and a great friend. He was a teacher in the conservatory in Paris, where he guided her first steps as a composer as they became friends. She really admired him, and considered him to be one of the best composers of his time. This is the reason why we introduce the piece Boulanger herself regarded as one of his best compositions. This Quintet with piano in c minor op. 115 is also a masterpiece in the chamber music repertoire by Gabriel Fauré. One of the last works by the composer, it was written in 1921. It is a French style piece, which presents naturally flowing melodies, extremely rich harmonies and contrasting textures in each one of the movements.
Jean Françaix was regarded by Boulanger as one of her best pupils, if not the best. He arrived at Nadia Boulanger’s house in Paris when he was ten years old. A few days later Nadia told his mother “I can not teach him any harmony because he already knows it. He knows it all. I do not know how, it must be something natural to him". She admired his talent, and they developed not only a teacher-pupil relationship, but also a great friendship. She promoted his music and his talent, and helped him become a composer. She also admired him as an intellectual, and she liked to share conversations and ideas with him. Actually, his personality is very obvious in this C Major String trio. He was a sensible man of great sensitivity, hidden behind an ironical way of looking at life, with an immense sense of humour.
Aaron Copland was one of the great American pupils of Nadia Boulanger, as well as being one of the most relevant North American composers. Boulanger created the American Conservatoire in Fointenebleau, where she taught American students, Aaron Copland being one of them. After his first meeting with Boulanger, he was astonished by the way she put forward to students her knowledge and her views. Their relationship, as Copland himself explained, was much more than pupil-teacher relationship. They became great friends. Thanks to his relationship to Nadia Boulanger, many doors opened for Aaron Copland. He contacted composers such as Stravinsky and Poulenc. Debussy’s editor himself published his music. This “Movement for string quartet” was one of the tasks commissioned by Nadia Boulanger. It was recovered after years of neglect, after which the composer himself gave his consent to the publishing and interpretation of the work.
Igor Stravinsky was also one of her best friends. She was actually a great admirer of his talent. The Russian born composer, who spent most of his lifetime away from his homeland, found in Nadia Boulanger not only a mentor, but also a reference in his life, a friend. She became a defender of his music and his talent. They discussed their musical points of view, either on harmony or on interpretation. The ideas they discussed about set a landmark in the development of the new musical expression writing paths of the XXth century. These new musical ideas are no doubt reflected in his Three pieces for string quartet, written in 1914 in “avant garde” style. .
This concert is a glimpse of the house of Nadia Boulanger, the epicentre of XXth century music. It is also a voyage through the life of the friends and pupils of one of the most relevant women in music history.