Monday, November 5, 2012

Monteverdi Monday – Nadia Boulanger and Friends

Nadia Boulanger
Claudio Monteverdi
If everyone who claimed to have studied with composer, conductor, and teacher Nadia Boulanger, she would have to have been at least two people. However, she did have a strong influence over 20th Century American music, having taught Copland, Piston, Harris, and Bernstein, to name a few. (But not Gershwin. Boulanger was among many European composers who felt they had nothing new to offer this already popular and financially successful American composer.) 

Boulanger was the first woman ever to conduct the Boston Symphony and the New York Philharmonic (and several others.) She also was the first person ever to record the music of Claudio Monteverdi.

In 1937, Boulanger entered an HMV recording studio with a small group of French singers and recorded a selection of madrigals.  With this set of recordings, regarded by some as one of the most important of the twentieth century, Boulanger  re-introduced to the world a composer who had been virtually forgotten for centuries.

Mme. Boulager's interpretations were state-of-the-art for her time. Clearly, modern musicology has given us a completely different concept of what Monteverdi should sound like. But these heartfelt and committed performances are a treasure; and without them, it's possible that no one would have looked at Monteverdi's music again.  Then where would we be?

Monteverdi: Zeffiro torna

Nadia Boulanger with Tenors 
Hugues Cuénod & Paul Derenne

More information about Nadia Boulanger: 
Naxos Biography
Wikipedia Entry


  1. I didn't know that Boulanger was the first person to record Monteverdi - cool!


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