Nadia Boulanger has been called the most influential teacher since Socrates. No one had a more powerful influence shaping 20th-Century music than Boulanger, who counted Aaron Copland, Astor Piazzola, Quincy Jones, Roy Harris, John Eliot Gardiner, Elliott Carter, Dinu Lipatti, Igor Markevitch, Virgil Thomson, David Diamond, Idil Biret, Daniel Barenboim, and Philip Glass among her harmony and composition students. Besides teaching, Nadia was organist at Paris’ La Madeleine; assistant to composer Gabriel Faure; Stravinsky’s editor; and the first woman to conduct the Boston Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra and New York Philharmonic. She was also a prominent composer/arranger and music critic, as well as the first woman in history to lecture worldwide about music.
For all her accomplishments, however, Boulanger’s story does not appear in established music history textbooks, which chronicle mostly male stories. The message of Nadia is important for music students and enthusiasts of all ages to hear, but especially young people envisioning their own futures, because it shows the remarkable impact one person had, despite obstacles.