Saturday, March 31, 2007

Dark Face of the Sun: the Life of Lili Boulanger

The temporal beauty of the life of Lily Boulanger makes her a perfect subject for my blog. Like a flower awakening at midnight, Lily was given only twenty-four years and the dark face of the sun. Despite this she wove together architecturally perfect, harmonies of spirit and left music behind for the world, that would endure for as long as the sun rises.

The composer and conductor Igor Markevitch once remarked, "The works of Lili Boulanger, impress me with their solitude."

Lili was the first woman to win "The Prix de Rome" and was awarded this honor in 1913 for her cantata "Faust et Helene." Christopher Palmer wrote in "The Boulanger Connection, "Lily acquired a totally professional technique with unnerving speed and facility. Her orchestration, for instance, is masterly. she was essentially a poet-in-sound, with an artist's feeling for beauty of color and texture."

Lili Boulanger is best known for her "Hymn to the Sun or Hymne au soleil," and this is my favorite of her compositions. She became ill at an early age from bronchial pneumonia and was left with an undermined resistance to infection, eventually dying of cancer. Lili knew that time was of great essence and her works; luminous and transcendent, were written in the dark eye of a night enfolding her like angel wings.

Hymn to the Sun
Casimir Delavigne (1793-1843)
Translation Nick Flower

"Let us bless the power of the reborn sun.
With all the universe let us celebrate its return.
Crowned in spendour. It rises, it soars.
The awakening of the earth is a hymn of love....."


S. Camille Crawford said...

It's really great to find a wealth of great information on your site. I doubt I could get through it all in a year. And your 'wish list', a modest 10 items! Great idea. I'm moving on to lists now that I've gotten the goals somewhat sorted out. I need to figure out how to achieve them all! Your site continues to bring inspiration and colour into my days.
Thank you Princess Haiku.

Lee's River/Zlatovyek said...

For years, I was sent to Paris on business and always stayed in a hotel on rue Casimir-Delavigne, just off the Théâtre de l'Odéon. I only know Lily by reputation but will now look her up thanks to you.