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Video on demand: Lili Boulanger's Faust et Hélène

KonserthusetPlayRecorded at Konserthuset Stockholm: Stora Salen, Stockholm, Sweden

At nineteen years old, Lili Boulanger became the first woman to win the prestigious Prix de Rome with her cantata, Faust et Hélène. In this concert video it is performed by the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and three vocal soloists, led by Conductor Laureate Alan Gilbert.

The action in Faust et Hélène is based on a text by dramatist and librettist Eugène Adénis, who was inspired in turn by Goethe’s Faust. This late-romantic dramatic music conveys the evocative story of the scholar Faust, who is helped by Mephistopheles to awaken the beautiful Hélène from antiquity. The consequences are fateful.

Lili Boulanger’s musical talent was exceptional. After hearing Faust et Hélène, Debussy wrote in Revue Musicale: “...she is only 19 years old. But her skill at composing music is much greater!”

Lili Boulanger suffered from Crohn’s disease and she died at just 24 years old. She dedicated the cantata to her older sister Nadia Boulanger, who was also a composer, but who was primarily known as one of the 20th century’s most influential teachers. In 2015, Konserthuset Stockholm dedicated its annual international composer festival to the Boulanger sisters.

Filmed in April 2019.

    © Peter Hundert
    © Peter Hundert
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