At the age of nine, Nadia Boulanger began the study of organ and composition, encouraged by her father, the composer, orchestral conductor and voice professor Ernest Boulanger (1815-1900), who entrusted her to Louis Vierne. Entering the Paris Conservatory at the same time, she was a brilliant student and obtained in 1904, at the age of sixteen, first prizes in organ, accompaniment and composition. In 1908, she won a second prize in the Prix de Rome. Nadia Boulanger became assistant organist to Gabriel Fauré at the church La Madeleine in 1903. Like Mel Bonis, she had an organ at home: a Mutin-Cavaillé-Coll, installed in 1904 as soon as she moved into her apartment on Ballu street.
Raoul Pugno (1852 -1914), the famous pianist, took Nadia Boulanger under his wing. He played her Rhapsody Variations for piano and orchestra under her direction and also composed with her a certain number of works ( including the wonderful song-cycle Heures claires of 1909). After the death of Pugno, she little by little abandoned composing, devoting her time instead to teaching, conducting, and making known the works of her sister, Lili (1893 - 1918). She would become one of the most famous composition teachers of the 20th century, counting amongst her students several generations of American composers.