Saturday, March 15, 2008


Bruno Monsaingeon's Mademoiselle is a film that I believe every musician should watch. Made in honor of Nadia Boulanger's (1887-1979) 90th birthday, the film is mostly set in Boulanger's apartment. It was shot on a series of many "Wednesdays" (the day she held classes), where the people in the class (and now you and I) listen to her talk about music. This is a very early film for Monsaingeon, who asks Nadia Boulanger excellent (and difficult) questions, and gets excellent (and honest) responses. He also interviews Leonard Bernstein (in French), who knew her well, but didn't consider himself a member of the Boulangerie, as well as Igor Markevitch who studied with her for many years.

Additional treats include an interview with the very young (maybe he was 9 or 10) Emile Naoumoff, who we also get to hear play the Mozart C minor Fantasie, while Nadia Boulanger gives us a blow-by-blow harmonic analysis. There is also a performance Schumann's Davidsbundlertanse #6 played by Charles Fisk, that we get to hear after Boulanger teaches a class on its opening melody.

Some people who were studying music while Boulanger was alive have heard of, seen, or read Monsaingeon's Mademoiselle: Conversations with Nadia Boulanger. Unfortunately the book seems to have slipped out of print, but copies can be found in used book stores and in the collections of many libraries across the country. Some of the film's text (what Nadia Boulanger says) is the same as the text of the book, but much is different.

Nadia Boulanger reminds me of what is important in music.

1 comment:

Lee said...

Thanks for the suggestion - one I will definitely watch (and keep suggesting, please).