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Nadia Boulanger

  • 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.

    • Nadia Boulanger,
    • 1919, in Alan Kendall, The Tender Tyrant ()
  • In music everything is prolonged, everything is edified, and when the enchantment has ceased, we are still bathed in its clarity; solitude is accompanied by a new hope between pity for ourselves — which makes us more indulgent and more understanding — and the certitude of finding something again, that which lives for ever in music.

    • Nadia Boulanger,
    • 1919, in Alan Kendall, The Tender Tyrant ()
  • As far as the execution is concerned ... the most frequent and most serious mistake is to follow the music instead of preceding it.

    • Nadia Boulanger,
    • in Alan Kendall, The Tender Tyrant ()
  • Words created divergencies between beings, because their precise meanings put an opinion around the idea. Music only retains the highest and purest substance of the idea, since it has the privilege of expressing all, whilst excluding nothing.

    • Nadia Boulanger,
    • in Alan Kendall, The Tender Tyrant ()
  • 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.

    • Nadia Boulanger,
    • in Alan Kendall, The Tender Tyrant ()
  • [On the music of Richard Strauss:] Too many notes!

    • Nadia Boulanger,
    • c. 1927, in Léonie Rosenstiel, Nadia Boulanger ()
  • Great art likes chains. The greatest artists have created art within bounds. Or else they have created their own chains.

    • Nadia Boulanger,
    • c. 1939, in Léonie Rosenstiel, Nadia Boulanger ()
  • Without order there can be no inner satisfaction. Without inner satisfaction there can be no freedom. Without freedom there is no joy.

    • Nadia Boulanger,
    • c. 1945, in Léonie Rosenstiel, Nadia Boulanger ()
  • Music, like life, is in constant evolution.

    • Nadia Boulanger,
    • 1925, in Don G. Campbell, Reflections of Boulanger ()
  • It is so much easier to rest contented with what we have already acquired than to change ever so slightly those routine but profound habits of thought and feeling which govern our life, and by which we live so blissfully. This mental inertia is, perhaps, our greatest enemy. Insidiously it leads us to assume that we can renew our lives without renewing our habits.

    • Nadia Boulanger,
    • 1925, in Don G. Campbell, Reflections of Boulanger ()
  • You should never listen to someone practice. That is their work and theirs alone.

    • Nadia Boulanger,
    • in Don G. Campbell, Reflections of Boulanger ()
  • It is one thing to be gifted and quite another thing to be worthy of one's own gift.

    • Nadia Boulanger,
    • in Don G. Campbell, Reflections of Boulanger ()
  • Do nothing for effect. Do it for truth.

    • Nadia Boulanger,
    • in Don G. Campbell, Reflections of Boulanger ()
  • False notes can be forgiven, false music cannot.

    • Nadia Boulanger,
    • in Don G. Campbell, Reflections of Boulanger ()
  • The great conductor is always a despot by temperament and intractable in his ways. ... The artist is obliged to keep his laughter and tears to himself. If they want to emerge, in spite of himself, then he must hide them or unleash them in someone else.

    • Nadia Boulanger,
    • in Don G. Campbell, Reflections of Boulanger ()
  • Art is not emotion. Art is the medium in which emotion is expressed.

    • Nadia Boulanger,
    • in Don G. Campbell, Reflections of Boulanger ()
  • 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.

    • Nadia Boulanger,
    • in Don G. Campbell, Reflections of Boulanger ()
  • Music was not invented by the composer, but found.

    • Nadia Boulanger,
    • in Don G. Campbell, Reflections of Boulanger ()
  • 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.

    • Nadia Boulanger,
    • in Don G. Campbell, Reflections of Boulanger ()
  • Without discipline, there can be no freedom.

    • Nadia Boulanger,
    • in Don G. Campbell, Reflections of Boulanger ()
  • I adore tradition. I cannot stand habit. Simply to repeat is nothing, also to destroy is nothing. Tradition is never interrupted, we are always evolving but never interrupted.

    • Nadia Boulanger,
    • in Don G. Campbell, Reflections of Boulanger ()
  • There is nothing boring in life except ourselves.

    • Nadia Boulanger,
    • in Don G. Campbell, Master Teacher: Nadia Boulanger ()
  • To study music, we must learn the rules. To create music, we must forget them.

    • Nadia Boulanger,
    • in Aaron Copland and Vivian Perris, Copland: 1900 Through 1942 ()
  • A great work is made out of a combination of obedience and liberty.

    • Nadia Boulanger,
    • in Nadia Boulanger and Bruno Monsaingeon, Mademoiselle: Conversations With Nadia Boulanger ()
  • ... life is denied by lack of attention, whether it be to cleaning windows or trying to write a masterpiece.

    • Nadia Boulanger,
    • in Nadia Boulanger and Bruno Monsaingeon, Mademoiselle: Conversations With Nadia Boulanger ()
  • 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.

    • Nadia Boulanger,
    • in Nadia Boulanger and Bruno Monsaingeon, Mademoiselle: Conversations With Nadia Boulanger ()
  • [On being asked how it felt to be the first female conductor of the Boston Symphony:] I've been a woman for a little more than fifty years, and I've gotten over my original astonishment.

    • Nadia Boulanger,
    • 1938, in Deborah G. Felder, The 100 Most Influential Women of All Time ()

Nadia Boulanger, French composer, conductor, educator

(1887 - 1979)

Full name: Juliette Nadia Boulanger.