French composer Lili Boulanger, whose full name was Marie-Juliette Olga Boulanger, was born in Paris on 21 August 1893 into a family of musicians - her mother was a Russian princess and her father taught at the Conservatoire de Paris. Gabriel Fauré, a family friend, discovered when Boulanger was two years old that she had perfect pitch. Before she was five, she attended classes at the Conservatoire with her ten-year-old sister Nadia Boulanger.
Lili studied organ with Louis Vierne, sang and played cello, harp, piano and violin.
She competed twice for the Prix de Rome. In 1912 she collapsed during her performance due to illness, but in 1913 she became the first female composer to win the composition prize (for the cantata Faust et Hélène).
She studied composition with her sister, then with Paul Vidal, Georges Caussade and Fauré, who was very impressed with Lili.
Lili Boulanger was plagued with chronic illness, from the age of two, and although she travelled to Rome and completed many compositions, she died at only twenty-four, on 15 March 1918 in Mézy-sur-Seine.
A selection of M&V articles about Lili Boulanger
CD Spotlight. Truly Superlative - Music by twentieth century women composers impresses Geoff Pearce. '... the Trio des Alpes is committed and convincing ...'
CD Spotlight. Full Stretch - Poulenc's Organ Concerto, heard by Robert Anderson. '... marvellous vitality ...'