Nadia Boulanger (1887-1979)
- The essential conditions of everything you do must be choice, love, passion.
- A great work is made out of a combination of obedience and liberty.
- Loving a child doesn’t mean giving in to all his whims; to love him is to bring out the best in him, to teach him to love what is difficult.
- I’ve been a woman for a little over 50 years and have gotten over my initial astonishment. As for conducting an orchestra, that’s a job where I don’t think sex plays much part.
- Do not take up music unless you would rather die than not do so.
- Everything we know by heart enriches us and helps us find ourselves. If it should get in the way of finding ourselves, it is because we have no personality.
- You should never listen to someone practice. That is their work and theirs alone.
- It is easier to analyze a work in its form, in its evolution, than simply to love it with all the living forces of our heart. It is easier to define its peculiarities and its details than to draw out of it its emotion, its thought.
- Great art likes chains. The greatest artists have created art within bounds. Or else they have created their own chains.
- Art is not emotion. Art is the medium in which emotion is expressed.
- Without discipline, there can be no freedom.
- There is nothing boring in life except ourselves.
- Without a strong cup to carry the emotion, it is only a curiosity. Great art can come to us only in strong cups. Without emotion, there is nothing to carry.
- Music was not invented by the composer, but found.
- To study music, we must learn the rules. To create music, we must break them.
- It is nothing to succeed if one has not taken great trouble, and it is nothing to fail if one has done the best one could.
- Nothing is better than music; when it takes us out of time, it has done more for us than we have the right to hope for: it has broadened the limits of our sorrowful life, it has lit up the sweetness of our hours of happiness by effacing the pettinesses that diminish us, bringing us back pure and new to what was, what will be, what music has created for us.
April 27, 2020 at 9:11 am
My composition teacher in college was a student of Boulanger’s so I have a built in fascination with her. I loved reading this. I have found the ‘chains’ are a gift in trying to create. Thanks Debra.
April 27, 2020 at 5:33 pm
So lovely to hear from you. Nadia is one of my all time composer heroes. Her sister, Lili wrote some really wonderful music as well. Indeed, parameters can be difficult, but certainly help steer the composer vessel away from the rocky shoal.