September 16, 1887: 00:15 Juliette Nadia Boulanger is born at 36 rue Maubeuge in the Ninth arrondissement of Paris, Republic of France, second of four and eldest surviving child of Ernest-Henri-Alexandre Boulanger, composer and professor of violin at the Paris Conservatoire, and Princess Raisa Ivanovna Myschetsky Shuvalov, daughter of Russian nobility.
July 30, 1904: At a Paris Conservatoire awards ceremony, Nadia Boulanger (16) receives first prizes in organ, piano accompaniment, and fugue.
October 30, 1906: Versailles, a song by Nadia Boulanger (19) to words of Samain, is performed for the first time, in the Salon d’autonne of the Grand Palais des Champs-Elysées, Paris. The composer performs the piano part.
March 21, 1907: Two songs by Nadia Boulanger (19) are given their first public performance, at the Salle Pleyel, Paris. They are Soleils couchants, to words of Verlaine and Elégie, to words of Samain.
May 2, 1908: In the fugue portion of the Prix de Rome, the only female candidate, Nadia Boulanger (20), quite consciously composes an instrumental fugue instead of the required vocal fugue. This will cause a controversy with some judges not wanting her to continue. However, the majority votes in her favor and she will go on to win the second prix.
May 13, 1909: The cantata Roussalka (Dnégouchka) by Nadia Boulanger (22) to words of Delaquys is performed for the first time, in Paris. It is her Prix de Rome entry. The programming is controversial, since Prix de Rome entries which do not win are usually never performed again.
February 13, 1910: Two songs for voice and piano, Cantique to words of Maeterlinck and Prière to words of Bataille, by Nadia Boulanger (22) are performed for the first time, in Paris.
July 3, 1911: One of Nadia Boulanger’s (23) first pupils begins studying fugue with her, her sister Lili (17).
April 17, 1912: Nadia Boulanger (24) makes her conducting debut at La Roche-sur-Yon, directing her own 1908 cantata La Sirène.
January 17, 1913: Rhapsodie variée for piano and orchestra by Nadia Boulanger (25) is performed for the first time, at the Deutscher Lyceum Club, Berlin. This concert includes only work by women composers. Boulanger is the only one to conduct her own work.
January 3, 1914: Nadia Boulanger’s (26) collaborator, Raoul Pugno, dies of bronchitis. She will never be the same composer and her output begins to tail off.
March 22, 1915: Airs populaires flamands, an organ work by Nadia Boulanger (27), is performed for the first time, in Paris by the composer.
December 29, 1915: Soir d’hiver for voice and orchestra by Nadia Boulanger (28) to her own words is performed for the first time, in Théâtre Sarah Bernhardt, Paris.
October 26, 1921: Aaron Copland (20) visits the Paris apartment of Nadia Boulanger (34) at 36 rue Ballu (now 3 Place Lili Boulanger) with some of his scores. Among them he plays “Jazzy” the last of his Three Moods for piano. Boulanger immediately accepts him as a student. Copland will call his studies with Mme Boulanger “the decisive musical experience of my life.” (Copland&Perlis 2012)
October 18, 1923: Igor Stravinsky’s (41) Octet for Winds is performed for the first time, at the Paris Opéra, conducted by the composer. Also on the program is the premiere of the First Violin Concerto op.19 of Sergey Prokofiev (32). Present for the occasion, along with both composers, are Nadia Boulanger (36), members of Les Six, Karol Szymanowski (41), Aaron Copland (22), Pablo Picasso, Anna Pavlova, Arthur Rubinstein, and Josef Szigeti. Comparing it to Stravinsky’s earlier ballets, Copland calls this “a reverse shocker.”
December 31, 1924: Nadia Boulanger (37) arrives in New York from France on her first sojourn in America.
January 9, 1925: Nadia Boulanger (37) gives her first organ recital in the United States in the Wannamaker Auditorium, Philadelphia. It is the first of 26 recitals she will give through the end of February.
January 11, 1925: Symphony for Organ and Orchestra by Aaron Copland (24) is performed for the first time, in Aeolian Hall, New York. The composer’s teacher, Nadia Boulanger (37), is at the organ. The public is impressed along with most of the critics, but conductor Walter Damrosch is quoted as saying, “If a gifted young man can write a symphony like this at 23, within five years he will be ready to commit murder.”
February 13, 1925: Nadia Boulanger (37) gives a lecture at the Cleveland Institute of Music on “Modern Music and its Evolution.” Afterwards, she dines with Roger Sessions (28), whom she met last summer in France. They attend a concert by Igor Stravinsky (42) and afterwards, Boulanger introduces Sessions to Stravinsky.
May 6, 1927: Concerto for piano, clarinet, and string quartet by Roy Harris (29) is performed for the first time, in the Salle Gaveau, Paris by the Société Musicale Indépendante, Nadia Boulanger (39) at the keyboard. Also premiered is the Trio for flute, clarinet, and bassoon op.92 by Charles Koechlin (59).
January 2, 1928: Nadia Boulanger (40) writes a letter of recommendation for Marc Blitzstein (22), her student for the past several months. “I could not praise too highly his gifts--Born musician, he is especially bright minded--and gives the greatest reasons to believe he is to become a true great artist.”
March 8, 1928: Maurice Ravel (53), in New York, writes to Nadia Boulanger (40) in Paris. “There is a musician here endowed with the most brilliant, most enchanting, and perhaps the most profound talent: George Gershwin (29). His worldwide success no longer satisfies him, for he is aiming higher. He knows that he lacks the technical means to achieve his goal. In teaching him those means, one might ruin his talent. Would you have the courage, which I wouldn't dare have, to undertake this awesome responsibility?" She will politely decline.
May 30, 1928: Capital Capitals for four male vocal soloists and piano by Virgil Thomson (31) to words of Stein, is performed for the first time, at the Nouvelle Salle d’orgue du Conservatoire, Paris. Present are Stein and Alice B. Toklas, Nadia Boulanger (40), Darius Milhaud (35), Roy Harris (30), and Jean Cocteau. Press reactions are mixed.
July 15, 1928: Today’s issue of the French women’s magazine Minerva reports that readers have voted Nadia Boulanger (40) “Princesse de la Musique.” The author, Simone Ratel, compares her to a priest.
June 17, 1929: A concert entitled “Concert d’Oeuvres de Jeunes Compositeurs Américains”, organized by Aaron Copland (28) and Nadia Boulanger (41), takes place at the Salle Chopin, Paris. Featured on the program are works by Copland, Carlos Chávez (30), and Roy Harris (31). Several works for voice and piano by Virgil Thomson (32) are performed for the first time, the composer at the piano: Susie Asado, La Seine, and the cycle Preciosilla, all to words of Stein, Le Berceau de Gertrude Stein, ou La Mystère de la Rue de Fleurus and the cycle La Valse grégorienne, both to words of Hugnet.
June 30, 1933: An evening performance in the Hôtel Singer-Polignac in Paris is apparently the first entire concert conducted by Nadia Boulanger (45). She directs a chorus and orchestra in cantata excerpts by JS Bach (†182), an organ transcription of a Vivaldi (†192) concerto, and the Brandenburg Concerto no.5. One of the bass choristers is an American named Elliott Carter (24). It is the first of 19 of Mlle. Boulanger’s concerts for the Princesse de Polignac over the next five years.
January 8, 1934: A series of chamber music concerts begins at the Paris home of, and under the patronage of, Winnaretta Singer, Princesse de Polignac. They are directed by Nadia Boulanger (46). This series will stretch over the next four years.
February 13, 1934: Nadia Boulanger (46) makes her official Paris conducting debut, directing the orchestra of the École Normale.
November 24, 1936: Nadia Boulanger (49) conducts a concert of the Royal Philharmonic in Queen’s Hall, London. It is the first time a woman has conducted this orchestra.
May 5, 1937: Igor Stravinsky (54) and Nadia Boulanger (49) are fellow passengers on the SS Paris sailing from New York to France. Boulanger brings to him the offer of a commission from a mutual acquaintance, Mildred Bliss, to celebrate her 30th wedding anniversary and to be performed at the Blisses’ mansion in Georgetown, Dumbarton Oaks.
January 25, 1938: Nadia Boulanger (50) sails from France aboard the Champlain making for the United States where she and her vocal ensemble will give 40 concerts.
May 8, 1938: Igor Stravinsky’s (55) Concerto “Dumbarton Oaks” for chamber orchestra, is performed for the first time, privately at Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C. conducted by Nadia Boulanger (50). The composer was slated to conduct but he is ill in Paris and asked Boulanger, in the United States already, if she would do the honors. See 8 June 1938.
February 11, 1939: Nadia Boulanger (51) becomes the first woman to conduct the New York Philharmonic, in Carnegie Hall. During the evening she also performs on the piano and organ.
September 5, 1939: World War II: Fearful of German bombs, Igor Stravinsky (57) and Vera de Bosset move from Paris to the home of Nadia Boulanger (51) in Gargenville. United States President Franklin Roosevelt implements the Neutrality Act of 1937, including an arms embargo on all belligerents in the European war.
November 6, 1940: Nadia Boulanger (53) and Ignacy Paderewsi arrive at the port of New York aboard the Excambion from Portugal.
January 10, 1942: While living in the Boston area, Nadia Boulanger (54) receives a letter informing her that her cottage, Gargenville, is currently occupied by the Nazis. The news makes her very distraught and increases her feeling of isolation from home.
January 17, 1946: Nadia Boulanger (58) disembarks in La Pallice after five years of exile in the United States. She was recently appointed to the faculty of the Paris Conservatoire.
April 8, 1962: Evolutio Organ for organ solo by Charles Wuorinen (23) is performed for the first time, at the Church of the Advent, Boston. The work is dedicated to the memory of Lili Boulanger (†44) in gratitude for the presentation of the Lili Boulanger Award to the composer on 13 March 1961. The dedicatee’s sister, Nadia Boulanger (74), is in the audience.
March 18, 1967: After study with Nadia Boulanger (79) in Paris and four months travelling through the Himalayas, Philip Glass (30) reacquaints himself with Steve Reich (30) at a concert of Reich’s music at the Park Place Gallery, New York. Afterwards they discuss their recent compositions at Reich’s apartment.
February 9, 1977: Nadia Boulanger (89) is awarded France’s highest civilian award, Grand Officier of the Legion d’honneur, by President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing in the Elysée Palace, Paris.
October 5, 1979: With cold weather coming on, Nadia Boulanger (92) is transported by ambulance from Fontainebleau to her apartment in Paris.
July 15, 2006: The opera La ville morte by Nadia Boulanger (†25) and Raoul Pugno to words of d’Annunzio is performed for the first time, orchestrated by Bonifacio, at the Chigiana Festival, Italy, 92 years after it was composed.