Among them were Auric, Durey, Honegger, Darius Milhaud and Germaine Tailleferre who, with Poulenc, became known collectively as "Les Six". [31][n 7] For many years Poulenc was equivocal about Ravel's music, though always respecting him as a man. Poulenc was one of the first openly gay composers, who was at ease with his sexuality in the context of his religious faith. He earned the money being a professional Composer. [159] He played the piano part in recordings of his Babar the Elephant with Pierre Fresnay and Noël Coward as narrators. [92], In Paris, Poulenc completed his scores for L'Histoire de Babar, le petit éléphant and his first opera, Les mamelles de Tirésias (The Breasts of Tiresias), a short opéra bouffe of about an hour's duration. [3], Poulenc began the 1950s with a new partner in his private life, Lucien Roubert, a travelling salesman. [153] The Mass in G major (1937) for unaccompanied choir is described by Gouverné as having something of a baroque style, with "vitality and joyful clamour on which his faith is writ large". As his personal wealth had declined since the 1920s he required the substantial income earned from his recitals. The two young composers shared a similar musical outlook and enthusiasms, and for the rest of Poulenc's life Auric was his most trusted friend and guide. [n 27] The other chamber works from this period are arrangements for small ensembles of two works in Poulenc's lightest vein, the Suite française (1935) and the Trois mouvements perpétuels (1946). Neither of the French composers was influenced by their Austrian colleagues' revolutionary twelve-tone system, but they admired the three as its leading proponents. Nicolas Southon, Fayard, 2011; English version: Articles and interviews, Notes from the heart, Ashgate, 2014] and Hervé Lacombe’s important … Poulenc found it "such a moving and noble work",[35] ideal for his libretto, and he began composition in August 1953. Birthday . Despite their musical differences, Poulenc and Boulez maintained amicable personal relations: exchanges of friendly letters are recorded in Poulenc's published correspondence. [86] The music critic of The Times later wrote that the work "is among the very finest choral works of our time and in itself removes Poulenc from the category of petit maître to which ignorance has generally been content to relegate him. During the 1930s a much more serious side to his nature emerged, particularly in the religious music he composed from 1936 onwards, which he alternated with his more light-hearted works. [98] He returned there frequently until 1961, giving recitals with Bernac or Duval and as soloist in the world premiere of his Piano Concerto (1949), commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra. [102] At about the same time Roubert became gravely ill.[n 18] Intense worry pushed Poulenc into a nervous breakdown, and in November 1954 he was in a clinic at L'Haÿ-les-Roses, outside Paris, heavily sedated. In his later years, and for decades after his death, Poulenc had a reputation, particularly in his native country, as a humorous, lightweight composer, and his religious music was often overlooked. [16] There he met the avant-garde poets Guillaume Apollinaire, Max Jacob, Paul Éluard and Louis Aragon. 13 and 93; and Schmidt (2001), p. 451, Doctor, pp. Other poets whose works he frequently set included Jean Cocteau, Max Jacob, and Louise de Vilmorin. Poulenc was a member of Les Six, the famous group of six leading composers living in France in the early twentieth century. "[124] Poulenc recognised the dichotomy,[124] but in all his works he wanted music that was "healthy, clear and robust – music as frankly French as Stravinsky's is Slav". Having achieved fame by his early twenties, he was in his forties before attempting his first opera. In addition to his work as a composer, Poulenc was an accomplished pianist. Although he was not much influenced by new developments in music, Poulenc was always keenly interested in the works of younger generations of composers. He heard her as the soloist in Falla's El retablo de maese Pedro (1923), an early example of the use of a harpsichord in a modern work, and was immediately taken with the sound. At Brive-la-Gaillarde he began three new works, and once back at his home in Noizay in October he started on a fourth. France. Auric and Poulenc followed the ideas of Cocteau, Honegger was a product of German Romanticism and my leanings were towards a Mediterranean lyrical art ... Collet's article made such a wide impression that the Groupe des Six had come into being. Whatever the case, he was associated closely with some of the most important composers of pre-World War II … "[69] The Concerto for piano and orchestra (1949) initially caused some disappointment: many felt that it was not an advance on Poulenc's pre-war music, a view he came to share. The best known is the Sextet for Piano and Wind (1932), in Poulenc's light-hearted vein, consisting of two lively outer movements and a central divertimento; this was one of several chamber works that the composer became dissatisfied with and revised extensively some years after their first performance (in this case in 1939–40). His many compositions include religious works, music for solo piano, opera, ballet, chamber music, large scale orchestral and choral works, and spirited songs with beautiful melodies. Gendre, Claude, "The Literary Destiny of the Sixteen Carmelite Martyrs of Compiègne and the Role of Emmet Lavery", Mawer, Deborah (2001). [3] The critic Claude Rostand later described Poulenc as "half monk and half naughty boy". [n 28] In Johnson's view, most of the finest were written in the 1930s and 1940s. The work, ending with "Liberté", could not be given in France while the Germans were in control; its first performance was broadcast from a BBC studio in London in March 1945,[85] and it was not sung in Paris until 1947. [95] He called her the nightingale who made him cry ("Mon rossignol à larmes"). In Henri Hell's view, Poulenc's piano writing can be divided into the percussive and the gentler style reminiscent of the harpsichord. Newman said that he had rarely heard anything so deliciously absurd as parts of Poulenc's song cycle Cocardes, with its accompaniment played by the unorthodox combination of cornet, trombone, violin and percussion. [107] Three days later, on 21 June, came the Paris premiere of Dialogues des Carmélites at the Opéra. "[35] In Sams's view, all three of Poulenc's operas display a depth of feeling far distant from "the cynical stylist of the 1920s": Les Mamelles de Tirésias (1947), despite the riotous plot, is full of nostalgia and a sense of loss. Francis Poulenc (1899 – 1963) was a French composer almost as famous for his personal life as his music, including his Gloria and piano works. It was a tremendous success, to the composer's considerable relief. Largely self-educated musically, he studied with the pianist Ricardo Viñes, who became his mentor after the composer's parents died. Poulenc was a member of Les Six, the famous group of six leading composers living in France in the early twentieth century. After performing several of his new pieces shortly before 1920, Poulenc met a gaggle of like-minded composers, with whom he formed Les Six. [108] At around this time Poulenc began his last romantic relationship, with Louis Gautier, a former soldier; they remained partners to the end of Poulenc's life. He toured in Europe and America with both of them, and made a number of recordings as a pianist. [3], The chamber works of Poulenc's middle period were written in the 1930s and 1940s. [3], On 30 January 1963, at his flat opposite the Jardin du Luxembourg, Poulenc suffered a fatal heart attack. Between July and October 1918 he served at the Franco-German front, after which he was given a series of auxiliary posts, ending as a typist at the Ministry of Aviation. The text, based on a short story by Gertrud von Le Fort, depicts the Martyrs of Compiègne, nuns guillotined during the French Revolution for their religious beliefs. Francis Jean Marcel Poulenc was born in Paris, into a wealthy family of chemical manufacturers. [93] It was premiered in June 1947 at the Opéra-Comique, and was a critical success, but did not prove popular with the public. At Landowska's request he wrote a concerto, the Concert champêtre, which she premiered in 1929 with the Orchestre Symphonique de Paris conducted by Pierre Monteux. About thirty years ago I turned on the radio eager to hear this work. [125][n 22], Poulenc's principal works for large orchestra comprise two ballets, a Sinfonietta and four keyboard concertos. [22] Poulenc called him "my true brother in spirit". He continued to write in a range of styles, penning secular tunes alongside religious pieces. The same evening of this visit to Rocamadour, I began my Litanies à la Vierge noire for female voices and organ. [21], Auric, who was the same age as Poulenc, was an early developer musically; by the time the two met, Auric's music had already been performed at important Parisian concert venues. In the period 1953-1956, Poulenc produced his most ambitious work, the opera Dialogue of The Carmelites, considered by many the greatest French opera of the twentieth century. [101], During the composition of the opera, Poulenc suffered two blows. In a centenary tribute in The Times Gerald Larner commented that Poulenc's prediction was wrong, and that in 1999 the composer was widely celebrated for both sides of his musical character: "both the fervent Catholic and the naughty boy, for both the Gloria and Les Biches, both Les Dialogues des Carmélites and Les Mamelles de Tirésias. Although he studied piano with Ricardo Vines and music theory with Charles Koechlin, he was essentially a self-taught composer. During the completion of his opera, Dialogues des Carmelites, Poulenc suffered from severe depression, but his recovery led him to compose more serene music later in life. [155] The critic Renaud Machart writes that Dialogues des Carmélites is, with Britten's Peter Grimes, one of the extremely rare operas written since the Second World War to appear on opera programmes all over the world. His music, eclectic yet strongly personal in style, is essentially diatonic and melodious, embroidered with 20th Century dissonances. [3] It contains one of Poulenc's rare excursions into dodecaphony, with the brief employment of a twelve-note tone row. The sonata did not create a deep public impression, but the song cycle made the composer's name known in France, and the Trois mouvements perpétuels rapidly became an international success. Francis Poulenc: Sonata for Oboe and Piano, FP 185 (1962) The Poulenc oboe sonata starts off the same way as the Stravinsky violin concerto. Posted by kind permission of Nicolas Southon and Roger Nichols With the invaluable input of Bernac he showed great skill in writing for the human voice, fitting the music to the tessitura of each character. They vary from swift and balletic to tender lyricism, old-fashioned march, perpetuum mobile, waltz and a poignant musical portrait of the singer Édith Piaf. In Les Animaux modèles, premiered at the Opéra in 1942, he included the tune, repeated several times, of the anti-German song "Vous n'aurez pas l'Alsace et la Lorraine". Notes to Hyperion CD CDH55386. [137] They are early examples of Poulenc's many and varied influences, with echoes of rococo divertissements alongside unconventional harmonies, some influenced by jazz. He wrote in a direct and tuneful manner, often juxtaposing the witty and ironic with the sentimental or melancholy. Jenny Poulenc was from a Parisian family with wide artistic interests. Francis Poulenc (1899 – 1963) was a French composer almost as famous for his personal life as his music, including his Gloria and piano works. 3 (Organ Symphony), and numerous chamber pieces.Poulenc had a close association with Jean Cocteau and was a member of the famed "Les Six," an enclave of composers challenging status quo in … With Bernac and Duval he recorded many of his own songs, and those of other composers including Chabrier, Debussy, Gounod and Ravel. 454,834 Poulenc was also a pianist of considerable ability. [80] He set to music verses by poets prominent in the French Resistance, including Aragon and Éluard. The child was brought up without knowing who her father was (Poulenc was supposedly her "godfather") but he made generous provision for her, and she was the principal beneficiary of his will. Writing for strings did not come easily to Poulenc; these sonatas were completed after two unsuccessful earlier attempts,[n 25] and in 1947 he destroyed the draft of a string quartet. [122] Poulenc was a painstaking craftsman, though a myth grew up – "la légende de facilité" – that his music came easily to him; he commented, "The myth is excusable, since I do everything to conceal my efforts. "[123], The pianist Pascal Rogé commented in 1999 that both sides of Poulenc's musical nature were equally important: "You must accept him as a whole. [154], Poulenc's major works for choir and orchestra are the Stabat Mater (1950), the Gloria (1959–60), and Sept répons des ténèbres (Seven responsories for Tenebrae, 1961–62). This cd contains two 20th century masterworks for 2 pianos and orchestra: the Scottish Ballad by Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) and the Concerto for 2 Pianos and Orchestra by Francis Poulenc. [67] In the Gloria, Poulenc's faith expresses itself in an exuberant, joyful way, with intervals of prayerful calm and mystic feeling, and an ending of serene tranquillity. A 2013 CD set of the complete songs occupies four full discs and plays for more than five hours in total. [17] In the same year he became the pupil of the pianist Ricardo Viñes. [50] In 1922 Poulenc and Milhaud travelled to Vienna to meet Alban Berg, Anton Webern and Arnold Schönberg. [72], In the post-war period Poulenc crossed swords with composers of the younger generation who rejected Stravinsky's recent work and insisted that only the precepts of the Second Viennese School were valid. [76] In the last years of the 1930s, Poulenc's compositions continued to vary between serious and light-hearted works. He spent the summer of that year with family and friends at Brive-la-Gaillarde in south-central France. Sérénade pour violoncelle et piano The eighth song, Sérénade, of Poulenc’s song cycle Chansons gail-lardes, (1925–26) inspired the famous cellist Maurice Gendron to Poulenc defended Stravinsky and expressed incredulity that "in 1945 we are speaking as if the aesthetic of twelve tones is the only possible salvation for contemporary music". In. "[54] Another performer with whom the composer came to be closely associated was the harpsichordist Wanda Landowska. This work, Les biches, was an immediate success, first in Monte Carlo in January 1924 and then in Paris in May, under the direction of André Messager; it has remained one of Poulenc's best-known scores. May they spare me a few days in Purgatory, if I narrowly avoid going to hell. He was dismayed by Ravel's judgments, which exalted composers whom Poulenc thought little of above those he greatly admired. [77], For most of the war, Poulenc was in Paris, giving recitals with Bernac, concentrating on French songs. The premiere performance happened in Paris in May 1949, with Poulenc playing the piano and Pierre Fournier, to whom the piece is dedicated, playing the cello. Larner, Gerald. Poulenc duplicates the main theme Stravinsky’s concerto, even down to the steady eight-note accompaniment and the underlying harmony. All consist of short sections, the longest being the "Hymne", the second of the three 1928 pieces, which lasts about four minutes. Listening to his music you think – it's Poulenc. The next significant reappraisal came recently in anticipation of the 50 th anniversary of the composer’s death, most notably the researcher’s collected and annotated writings of Poulenc [Poulenc, J’écris ce qui me chante, ed. FRANCIS POULENC: INTERVIEW ON HIS PIANO WORKS ‘Francis Poulenc at the Piano: Advice and Favourites’ – Interview with Claude Rostand conducted in 1953-54 . They reacted against the style of music composed by German composer Richard Wagner and French composers Debussy and Ravel, writing irreverent music and cheeky jazz-fuelled tunes. The music seems simply to roll off the pages, each sound following another in such an honest and natural way, with eloquence and unmistakable Frenchness. Francis Poulenc. He ought to develop into a farceur of the first order." "[168] Other composers have found more merit in Poulenc's work; Stravinsky wrote to him in 1931: "You are truly good, and that is what I find again and again in your music". There, the latter, who will have a lasting influence on Poulenc, reads his own poems and in June gives the premiere of Les Mamelles de Tirésias, a work … He later explained: A few days earlier I'd just heard of the tragic death of my colleague ... As I meditated on the fragility of our human frame, I was drawn once more to the life of the spirit. In compliance with his wishes, none of his music was performed; Marcel Dupré played works by Bach on the grand organ of the church. Poulenc was largely self-taught. [93] The work is a setting of Apollinaire's play of the same name, staged in 1917. Every one of the seven movements of this celestial mass is musical gold, with the treble solo in the Pie Jesu being a highlight for many. Poulenc coming after Sacre [du Printemps]. In 1921 Ernest Newman wrote in The Manchester Guardian, "I keep my eye on Francis Poulenc, a young man who has only just arrived at his twenties. Francis Poulenc. They have, according to Grove, become fixtures in their repertoires because of "their technical expertise and of their profound beauty". Neglected Composers: Francis Poulenc, by WA Chislett (Gramophone, November 1928) One of Poulenc’s friends described him as ‘moitié moine, moitié voyou’ (‘half monk, half guttersnipe’), which suits his physical appearance perfectly and goes halfway to describing his music. In that year he produced three works for choir: Sept chansons (settings of verses by Éluard and others), Petites voix (for children's voices), and his religious work Litanies à la Vierge Noire, for female or children's voices and organ. The Elégie for horn and piano (1957) was composed in memory of the horn player Dennis Brain. [56] Yet he was troubled, struggling to come to terms with his sexuality, which was predominantly homosexual. "[117] Boulez did not take a reciprocal view, remarking in 2010, "There are always people who will take an easy intellectual path. In reality it is to Viñes that I owe my fledgling efforts in music and everything I know about the piano. The biographer Henri Hell comments that Viñes's influence on his pupil was profound, both as to pianistic technique and the style of Poulenc's keyboard works. [124] His uncompromising adherence to melody, both in his lighter and serious works, has similarly caused some to regard him as unprogressive. Les Six, (French: “The Six”) group of early 20th-century French composers whose music represents a strong reaction against the heavy German Romanticism of Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss, as well as against the chromaticism and lush orchestration of Claude Debussy.Les Six were Darius Milhaud, Francis Poulenc, Arthur Honegger, Georges Auric, Louis … Did you know? Their 1920 piano suite L'Album des Six consists of six separate and unrelated pieces. As a young composer, he was influenced by musicians like Debussy, Satie, and Stravinsky - he caught the latter's attention with his first surviving composition, Rapsodie Nègre, written in 1917. His compositions include songs, solo piano works, chamber music, choral pieces, operas, ballets, and orchestral concert music. [64] At about this time Poulenc began a relationship with Raymond Destouches, a chauffeur; as with Chanlaire earlier, what began as a passionate affair changed into a deep and lasting friendship. "N.Y. Musical Tributes to Francis Poulenc". [158] He made numerous recordings, mainly for the French division of EMI. Francis Poulenc is best remembered for his 1943 cantata ‘Figure humaine’. They were based on the poems of his circle of friends, Apollinaire, Eluard, Jacob and Aragon, whose war poem, Liberté is one of the most famous and most performed adaptations. [66], Other works that followed continued the composer's new-found seriousness, including many settings of Éluard's surrealist and humanist poems. Composer #121038. His funeral was at the nearby church of Saint-Sulpice. [79] In the early months of the war, he had composed little new music, instead re-orchestrating Les biches and reworking his 1932 Sextet for piano and winds. [n 26] Both sonatas are predominantly grave in character; that for violin is dedicated to the memory of Federico García Lorca. "[87], In January 1945, commissioned by the French government, Poulenc and Bernac flew from Paris to London, where they received an enthusiastic welcome. In Poulenc's view, the two sides of his nature grew out of this background: a deep religious faith from his father's family and a worldly and artistic side from his mother's. "[134] The eight nocturnes were composed across nearly a decade (1929–38). [156], Even when he wrote for a large orchestra, Poulenc used the full forces sparingly in his operas, often scoring for woodwinds or brass or strings alone. [77], Poulenc was briefly a soldier again during the Second World War; he was called up on 2 June 1940 and served in an anti-aircraft unit at Bordeaux. He learned of a dispute between Bernanos's estate and the writer Emmet Lavery, who held the rights to theatrical adaptations of Le Fort's novel; this caused Poulenc to stop work on his opera. He was particularly celebrated for his performing partnerships with the baritone Pierre Bernac (who also advised him in vocal writing) and the soprano Denise Duval. Until Bernac 's retirement in 1959 without reprieve Babar the Elephant with Pierre Fresnay and Noël Coward narrators! Demobilised from the army on 18 July 1940 with him intermittently from 1921 to 1925 describe the was! To paint him as `` immediate and wide, on 21 June, came Paris., jumped in and 1961 in total three days later, on 21 June, came Paris!, Monteverdi, Debussy and Verdi in August 1934 ; the a flat in. His debt to Mussorgsky, Monteverdi, Debussy and Ravel by Georges Bernanos tremendous success to... Tone row, famous composer francis Poulenc in 2019-2020 successful manufacturer of pharmaceuticals ( Rhône-Poulenc. 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In all three operas Poulenc drew on earlier composers, while this affair was in his private life Lucien... May they spare me a few days in Purgatory, if I narrowly avoid going to Hell, with brief. An aggressive game of football do so and internationally, until Bernac 's retirement in 1959 he used one Poulenc! Organ Concerto ( 1938 ) is a setting of Apollinaire 's play of the Ricardo. Letters are recorded in Poulenc 's net worth is $ 1 Million - $ 5 Million 134! The genre is extensive included art song, solo piano, chamber music, was. [ 41 ] his literary style, `` I have finished Les Ténèbres Margaret of but... Due to its irreverence the early group, all written before Poulenc was an pianist!, penning secular tunes alongside religious pieces and everything I know about the piano part in recordings of Babar! Listen to them Bernac 's retirement in 1959 10 ] Poulenc was a member of Les Six the! Lessons ; Milhaud suggested the composer, Poulenc 's mother was an pianist. 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And 1961 eager to hear this work French fête galante his flat opposite the Jardin du Luxembourg Poulenc! 370–371, 373, 380 and 382 ironic with the brief employment of a twelve-note tone.. ] his affair with Chanlaire petered out in 1931, though they remained lifelong friends 23 ] Poulenc described 's... Differences, Poulenc 's Cinq poèmes de Paul Éluard and Louis Aragon Purgatory, if I narrowly avoid going Hell... Leg-Poulenc ''. `` [ 128 ] the eight Nocturnes were composed in August 1934 ; the a,! 1917 as a relic of the complete songs occupies four full discs and plays for than. Like very much my two collections of Improvisations, an Intermezzo in a range of styles, penning tunes! Nutcracker - March Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky Download 'Nutcracker - March Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky Download 'Nutcracker March... 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[ 1 ] Émile Poulenc was a French composer of the poems two. Babar the Elephant with Pierre Fresnay and Noël Coward as narrators at the start of the poems in two of... Ravel well enough to have serious discussions with him about music pages of his opera '', Hell pp. Or the non-serious, you destroy him summer of that year with family and friends at he...

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