Lili Boulanger: Pie Jesu

Lili Boulanger (1893-1918) was a tragic figure indeed among composers, plagued with chronic ill-health and prevented by her early death from fulfilling the outstanding promise revealed in just a handful of compositions.

The Pie Jesu was her last work, dictated on her deathbed to her sister Nadia; its haunting beauty seems to speak of another world. It was originally a soprano solo with string quartet, harp and organ, and in transferring the string quartet part to wordless choir my aim was to make this little-known gem accessible to choirs while preserving its essence as a soprano solo with organ.

I have been amazed at the response it has aroused in its new form, not least among the musicians who recently recorded it for the annual Oxford University Press choral sampler.

The printed music is included in the Oxford Choral Classics volume Sacred Choruses.

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