Nadia Boulanger: "In the midst of the stars"


  • Dominique Marie Baeta University of Florida



Nadia Boulanger, undergraduate research, music, music education, American Music


Nadia Boulanger is the French performer/teacher who changed the landscape of American music. Under the mentorship of her father, Ernest Boulanger, and the tutelage of musical genius, Gabriel Fauré at the Paris Conservatory, Nadia Boulanger had an excellent education and earned high honors as a student of organ and composition. However, early in her life Boulanger decided to turn her full focus to teaching. Among her most outstanding American composition students are Aaron Copland, Walter Piston, Roy Harris, Philip Glass, and Virgil Thomson. Student testimonials and class notebooks shed light on her teaching. Nadia Boulanger taught with a combination of rigor and passion, successfully mentoring a generation of aspiring composers and performers. Her profound imprint on American music is recognizable in the fact that almost all American composers of note in the 20th century studied with Nadia Boulanger either in Paris or during her residency in Boston. It is possible to trace parallels between her education and compositional style, and her teaching of composition. This paper investigates how Nadia Boulanger taught, why she was successful, and how her early education affected her future as a composition teacher.


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