Nadia Boulanger was born to a Parisian family of prominence. Her father was a voice teacher and composer at the Paris Conservatory and her mother was a Russian princess!
By age 10, Nadia had successfully passed her entrance exams to the Paris Conservatory and began her study there. She excelled in solfege sight singing and aural (ear) skills. She studied composition with the famous composer Gabriel Faure.
Her younger sister, Lili, was also an excellent composer. She also had frail health and unfortunately passed away when in her teens in 1918. Nadia also stopped composing and turned her attention to teaching and conducting.
She was the first woman conductor of the Royal Philharmonic and taught noteable musicians such as Aaron Copland, Quincy Jones and Philip Glass in schools in the US and England.
While her compositions are not well-known, she did compose for voice, piano, organ, cello and orchestra. Her cantata, La Sirene, won a competition in France while she was still studying at the Paris Conservatory!
Hear a performance of one her organ compositions, Prelude in F minor.