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Celebration of Scholarship and Creative Activity 2023

Clairières dans le ciel – Boulanger

Paige Wilson

Junior, Music and Psychology


The three pieces I will be performing are from Lili Boulanger’s song cycle: Clairières dans le ciel. Boulanger was the first woman to win the Prix de Rome, a prestigious award/scholarship given by the French government. She died at the age of 24 years and wrote this song cycle when she was 20 years old. These are three of my favorite songs in this cycle, and all three mention a symbolic flower throughout the text. The poet of these texts, Francis Jammes, was part of the symbolist movement; a time when French poets explored human emotion and nature in the late 19th century. Some argue that Boulanger herself identified with the subject of many of the poems in this song cycle.

The first piece I will perform is Elle est gravemant gaie, and this piece references a yellow and blue path of pansies. Pansies are symbolism of thought, which makes sense because the narrator of the poem is thinking/daydreaming about a woman. Parfois, je suis triste references blossoming lindens and the linden branches having no flowers. Linden trees symbolize assurance, so the text aligns with this symbolic flower because the narrator of the text is unsure of how much a certain woman loves him. Deux ancolies depicts the story of two columbine flowers trembling in the wind and conversing with each other. Columbines are symbols of courage and fortitude, and in the text the two columbines are being vulnerable and courageous as they talk with one another.

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