Kimberly A. Francis
Nadia Boulanger and the Consecration of a Modernist Icon
Oxford University Press 2015
New Books in Arts & LettersNew Books in BiographyNew Books in French StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in MusicNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in Russian and Eurasian StudiesNew Books Network April 11, 2018 Kristen Turner
Pedagogue, composer, and conductor Nadia Boulanger was a central figure in Igor Stravinsky’s life during the middle part of his career, providing him with support, advice, and a discerning analytical and editorial voice when he was writing some of his most important compositions including the Symphony of Psalms and Persephone. Dr. Kimberly A. Francis has recently published two books related to the complicated and tangled relationship between these two people. The first, released in 2015 by Oxford University Press, is Teaching Stravinsky: Nadia Boulanger and the Consecration of a Modernist Icon. Just last month, Boydell and Brewer published Francis’s edition of their letters in Nadia Boulanger and the Stravinskys: A Selected Correspondence. In other hands, Teaching Stravinsky might have been a simple joint biography, but Francis grounds her work within a theoretical framework that promotes a new approach to musicology and other fields. Building on Pierre Bourdieu’s theories on cultural production, Francis reminds us that as long as musicologists insist on centering their scholarship on the lone composer/genius, someone who is almost always a man, we will miss how creative works are really a result of the complex interplay of networks of influence, and collaborators who participated in individual composers’ lives and music. She positions Boulanger as a participant in the cultural field of musical modernism, who used her position to influence Stravinsky’s compositions while also promoting and shaping his reputation as the premiere neo-classicist composer. At the center of Teaching Stravinsky is the long correspondence between Stravinsky, members of his family, and Boulanger which spans over forty years. In Nadia Boulanger and the Stravinkys, Francis edits and provides the English translation of most of the letters exchanged by the two friends providing readers not only the source material for her own work, but also an important resource for anyone interested in twentieth-century music. Both books have extensive companion websites. Perhaps most exciting in the Teaching Stravinsky website are the reproductions of pages from Stravinksy’s scores containing Boulanger’s comments with Francis’s explanations. The companion site for Nadia Boulanger and the Stravinskys holds all the letters in their original French.
Kimberly A. Francis is an Associate Professor of Music at the University of Guelph in Canada. Her work centers on twentieth and twenty-first century music and feminist musicology. She has published articles in many journals including The Musical Quarterly, Women and Music, and the Journal of the Society for American Music. Her work has been recognized many times with awards such as a Glen Haydon Award for her dissertation from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2010, and the American Musicological Society’s Paul A. Pisk Prize and Teaching Fund Award. She was an International Fellow with the American Association of University Women. Her research has been supported by multiple grants including a General Research Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (20112013). She also serves as Editor-in Chief for the University of Guelph’s award-winning journal, Critical Voices: The University of Guelph Book Review Project.
Kristen M. Turner, Ph.D. is a lecturer at North Carolina State University in the music department. Her work centers on American musical culture at the turn of the twentieth century and has been published in several journals and essay collections.