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 Tuesday, September 28, 2004 IssueFaculty/Staff E-Newsletter


Honoring Organist, Composer and Conductor Nadia Boulanger
By Mike Ligouri, New Services and Laima Gaigalas, College of Music

Nadia Boulanger, the master musician and teacher of luminaries like Aaron Copland, Elliott Carter and Quincy Jones, said the biggest question ever asked of her came from a young boy in Boston. He wanted to know what constituted a masterpiece. "It is so fortunate that no answer exists," Boulanger said later. "To me, genius is the greatest mystery of our existence. I can give you a few hints, but no firm answer."

Twenty-five years after her death, more hints of Boulanger's genius will be shared October 7-9 at a memorial symposium hosted by CU-Boulder's American Music Research Center. "Nadia Boulanger & American Music" will offer three full days of public concerts, discussions and events celebrating the French composer, conductor and teacher who had a profound effect on American music in the 20th century.

Boulanger was professor of harmony, counterpoint and composition at the American Conservatory of Music in Fontainebleau, France where she taught until her death in 1979. During her long and storied career, she became the first woman to conduct the major symphony orchestras in New York, Philadelphia, Boston and other cities.

With over 100 participants coming from around the world, collaborations throughout campus have been an important part of coordinating the event:

  • The CU Art Museum is presenting an exhibit called "Nadia Boulanger; An Enduring Legacy of Music and Spirit" September 9th through October 23rd
  • The CU Libraries helped to create promotional displays
  • The French and Italian department has provided translation services
  • The Center for the Humanities and Arts is lending financial and publicity assistance
  • The Film Studies program is videotaping the proceedings and Professor Russell Wiltse is allowing the symposium to use footage from a video he is creating of composers who worked with Boulanger
  • Current professors at CU-Boulder College of Music as well as alums and emeritus professors are giving papers alongside international presenters
  • Continuing Education will offer the symposium as a credit course
Registration for all symposium events is $125, but pre-registration is not required and tickets will be available for individual events and concerts. Several events are free. Details can be found at or by calling (303) 492-8008.

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