Francis Poulenc

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Poulenc, Francis

(fräNsēs` po͞olăNk`), 1899–1963, French composer and pianist. He was one of Les SixSix, Les
, a short-lived group of six young early 20th-century French musicians. They were united by their adverse reactions to the extravagant impressionism of French composers such as Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel and the overwrought romanticism of Germans such as Richard
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, a group of French composers who subscribed to the aesthetic ideals of Erik SatieSatie, Erik
, 1866–1925, French composer, studied at the Paris Conservatory; pupil of Vincent D'Indy and Albert Roussel at the Schola Cantorum. He early realized that the romantic Wagnerian style was incompatible with the expression of French sensibility, and he developed
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. The spontaneity and lyricism of Poulenc's style are best adapted to small forms—piano pieces such as Mouvements perpétuels (1918) and songs. Also outstanding are the ballet Les Biches (1924); Concert Champêtre (1929), for harpsichord and orchestra; the Mass in G (1937), for chorus and organ; Litanies à la Vierge noire (1936), for women's choir and organ; the Intermezzo in A Flat Major (1944), for piano; and the Concerto in G Minor for organ, strings, and percussion (1938). His operas are Les Mamelles de Tirésias (1947) and Dialogues des Carmélites (1957).

Poulenc, Francis


Born Jan. 7, 1899, in Paris; died there Jan. 30,1963. French composer.

Poulenc, who studied piano with R. Viñes and composition with C. Koechlin, became a member of the group known as Les Six in 1920. Steeped in classical and contemporary French culture, he was influenced by E. Chabrier, I. F. Stravinsky, E. Satie, C. Debussy, and M. Ravel.

Among Poulenc’s most important works are his vocal and stage compositions: the comic opera Les Mamelles de Tirésias (based on G. Apollinaire’s play, 1944), the tragic opera Les Dialogues des Carmélites (based on G. Bernanos’ work, 1953–56), and the lyrical, psychological one-act opera La Voix humaine (based on J. Cocteau’s works, 1958). Also among his most outstanding works are his cantatas, including Figure humaine, a patriotic composition for unaccompanied double chorus, with a text by P. Eluard (1943). The work was written and published clandestinely during the fascist occupation. Poulenc’s most outstanding compositions also include choral works (for example, Seven Songs [Apollinaire and Eluard], 1936, and French Songs, 1945) and art songs with verses by Apollinaire, Eluard, R. Desnos, and L. Aragon. Poulenc also wrote ballets, piano pieces, chamber instrumental works, and music for the theater and motion pictures.

Poulenc, whose music is highly melodic, is known in France as the French Schubert, because of the richness and beauty of his cantilenas. Drawing on the traditions of the French folk song, he developed the principles of Debussy’s musical prosody and M. P. Mussorgsky’s vocal declamatory methods.


Entretiens avec Claude Rostand. Paris [1954].
Moi et mes amis. Paris [1963].
Pis’ma. Edited, with an introduction and commentary by G. Filenko. Leningrad-Moscow, 1970. (Translated from French.)


Medvedeva, I. A. Fransis Pulenk. Moscow, 1969.
Shneerson, G. M. Frantsuzskaia muzyka XX v., 2nd ed. Moscow, 1970.
Hell, H. Francis Poulenc, musicien français. Paris [1958].
Roy, J. Francis Poulenc. [Paris, 1964.]


References in periodicals archive ?
He remained faithful to Apollinaire--whom he met in the same year, 1917, as he encountered Satie--throughout his life; but during the 1930s and 1940s Paul Eluard, "who always brought out the best in me" (see chapter 4 of my Francis Poulenc [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993], where I develop these ideas more fully), joined Apollinaire as inspirer and begetter, in tune with the disillusioned mood of the Second-World-War years, as Apollinaire had been a tenderly ironic child of the First.
Kennedy (2), Otto Klemperer (4), Serge Koussevitzky, Leipzig Conservatory, Paul Le Flem, Daniel Lesur, Dinu Lipatti (2), Arthur Lourie, Lorin Maazel, Igor Markevitch, Jean Martinon (2), Bohuslav Martinu (7), Olivier Messiaen (2), Darius Milhaud (7), Pierre Monteux (6), Celestine Munch (7), Fritz Munch (2), Walter Piston (2), Francis Poulenc (8), Serge Prokofiev, Jean Rivier, Guy Ropartz (10), Albert Roussel (5), Mme Francis Salabert, Florent Schmitt (2), Arnold Schoenberg, Albert Schweitzer (4), William Schuman, Strasbourg's Mayor [not named], Joseph Szigeti, Alexandre Tcherepnine (6), Jacques Thibaud, Arturo Toscanini, Walter Toscanini, Wanda Toscanini, Triton Concerts [no person named], and Heitor Villa-Lobos.
Francis Poulenc Complete Chamber Works London Conchord Ensemble This is the first "complete" collection of Poulenc chamber music I've encountered which really does what it says on the tin, and therefore constitutes a valuable double CD.
One would not normally associate Stephen Hough with the music of Francis Poulenc, but he joins the Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet for a sprightly performance of the Sextet, bringing wit and drive to the enjoyable piece.
Guest pianist Barry Hannigan, a professor of music at Bucknell University, will perform works by William Duckworth, Stephen Dembsky, Alex Lubet, Alexandra Pierce, Francis Poulenc, Andrew Burnson, Joseph Schwantner and Margaret Bonds.
This Swiss composer was perhaps the most "serious" composer among the iconoclastic French group known as "Les Six" (though Francis Poulenc comes pretty close in my book), and his music is powerful stuff: King David, Joan of Arc at the Stake, and at least two of his five symphonies which sear with the horrors of the Second World War (strange, perhaps, from a Swiss).
FRANCIS POULENC was probably the 20th century's most entertaining composer.
In addition to Debussy, he numbered among his friends Georges Auric, Francis Poulenc, Ravel, Stravinsky, Ricardo Vines, and critics Romain Rolland anti Jean Marnold, as well as others from the broader world of literature and the arts: Andre Breton, Jean Cocteau, Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, Andre Gide, Jacques Maritain, anti Auguste Rodin.
Francis Poulenc, no less, was a great admirer of the Sonata, and by some kind of spooky osmosis, the spirit of that adorable French composer seems to hover behind Barber's witty Souvenirs of 1950.
This gift of Annette Kaufman, Louis Kaufman's widow and longtime accompanist, provides a valuable collection of correspondence that includes letters to the Kaufmans from many important musical and artistic figures of the twentieth century, including Milton Avery, Samuel Barber, Robert Russell Bennett, Leonard Bernstein, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Aaron Copland, Jascha Heifetz, Bernard Herrmann, Fritz Kreisler, Francesco Malipiero, Bohuslav Martinu Darius Milhaud, Dimitri Mitropolous, Walter Piston, Francis Poulenc, George Rochberg, Richard Rodgers, Miklos Rozsa, Henri Sauguet, William Grant Still, Ernst Toch, and others.
27), five songs dedicated to Pierre Bernac and Francis Poulenc and Barber's only settings of French texts.
Piano Portrait--The Life and Music of Francis Poulenc John Kenneth Adams