Winnaretta Singer commissioned two works from Igor Markevitch (Partita in 1930 and Hymnes in 1934). He was then one of the students of Nadia Boulanger. Thanks to him, both women met and became friends. Nadia started to teach organ lessons to Winnaretta and introduced her to another student, the young pianist Jean Françaix who wrote Sérénade pour douze instruments in 1934 and Le Diable boiteux in 1937, both commissioned by the princess. Winnaretta Singer played a major role in Nadia Boulanger’s career: by officially naming her music director of all the concerts held in the mansion, she gave Nadia the opportunity to gather singers and musicians to create her own ensemble.
While the political situation was getting worse in Europe at the end of the 1930s, the Princess helped Hindemith to leave the Nazi Germany. She also commissioned a work from the Jewish composer Kurt Weill who managed to seek refuge in France.
Winnaretta’s patronage was not limited to music and arts. She helped scientifics such as Marie Curie and Edouard Branly, and supported disadvantaged people by funding some infrastructures. For instance, she participated in projects led by the Salvation Army. In 1926, she made a donation to reopen the Palais de la femme in Paris where 800 young and isolated women could get help. Then, she became the main patron of the Salvation Army and funded the renovation of the Louise-Catherine ship to open a floating sanctuary for the homeless. She chose the young architect Le Corbusier to do the work. In 1933, she again asked the Salvation Army to call for Le Corbusier to build the Cité de refuge, an accommodation and rehabilitation center still running today in Paris. She organized charity dinners and concerts to raise money for increasing the donations she already made.