Music: Vive Teacher!

Some of the best-known contemporary U.S. composers—Aaron Copland, Walter Piston, Roy Harris, Marc Blitzstein, Virgil Thomson—are tied to a woman's apron strings. The woman: their sometime teacher, Nadia Boulanger, for years head of the American Conservatory of Music at Fontainebleau, first woman to conduct the Boston Symphony Orchestra (as a guest in 1938), and the world's most renowned teacher of composition.

Her alumni fondly recall the ways of the "tender tyrant": she had her students carrying packages for her and driving her car, called them in the middle of the night to do copying...

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