The Mistrals Caressing the Provencial Flowers

Lili Boulanger was a French Impressionist composer who lived in Paris France. She was the first female composer to win the coveted “Prix de Rome” scholarship. Also notable is that her sister was the famous teacher Nadia Boulanger whose pupils include Copeland, Eliot Carter and Virgil Thompson. 

“D’un Jardin Claire“ translates from French to mean “Of a Bright Garden”; I think that this title fits the piece perfectly. I have found a special connection to this piece as I lived in the South of France in the Provence region and had a large provincial style garden while living there. Every time I hear this piece, the colors found in it remind me of the colors of my garden and another special “truc” found only in the Provence region: the “Mistral.” The mistral is a very strong and dry wind that blows down from the north along the lower Rhône River valley toward the Mediterranean Sea. The Mistral brings the prized blue skies that the Provence region is known for. The wind can be strong enough to knock you to the ground; however, it can also blow very “légèrement”(lightly) and caress both flowers and faces alike. As the Mistral blows the trees, it creates a distinct sound which can range from a faint whistle, to a low and ominous howl when it’s blowing full strength.

The way “D’un Jardin Clair” flows from harmonic color to harmonic color, and from loud to soft and back to loud very suddenly invokes a perfect personification of the Mistral as if blows from strong to soft and strong again. This can especially be seen at the end where the piece modulates through different keys as it gets quieter and quieter until it fades to nothing.

The image I have chosen is a portrait of the Mistral by Claude Monet called “Cap d’Antibes with the Mistral Blowing.” It is my hope that you can enjoy this piece and can hear the Mistral blowing through the lavender, thyme, rosemary, and sunflowers that bedazzled Provence. 

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    Annie Jeng
    Annie Jeng(@annie-jeng1)
    2 months ago

    Picture: I love this painting by Monet and think that it perfectly captures the essence of D’un Jardin Claire. At first, I was thinking of a confined garden, but I actually love that you selected an image of an “open” garden with the “mistral” wind blowing through the plants. There is a feeling of vastness in Boulanger’s piece with the wide range she used to compose this piece. I can feel the… Read more »

    Lotchie Carmelo
    Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
    4 months ago

    Hello, Myles. You made me close my eyes. And while I closed my eyes, I listened to the melody of your presentation; I feel the happiness and relaxed. As if I was being transported to a very quiet place with fresh flower-scented air. Your presentation is very nice to listen to while reflecting on life. Well done, Myles.

    And thanks for the mistral word. I can now add it to my vocabulary.

    Margarida Brei
    Margarida Brei(@margarida-brei)
    3 months ago

    Thank you for comparing the music to the mistral wind and your vivid descriptions and playing.

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