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 ?
Francis Poulenc, Diary of My Songs, translated by Winifred Radford (London: Victor Gollancz Ltd.
Too often residing in the shadow of his predecessors, Francis Poulenc has begun to receive the scholarly attention his rich and eclectic output deserves.
Francis Poulenc Ave Maria (from Dialogues of the Carmelites)
Every one of these suggested meanings springing from specific aspects of the opera could be developed into a full essay outside the parameters of my purpose here, but within my confines they work together to make clear the profane nature of the opera and in so doing fulfill Poulenc's most cherished dream: "If my tomb could be inscribed: 'Here lies Francis Poulenc, the musician of Apollinaire and Eluard,' I would consider that my greatest claim to fame.
The title stems from an anecdote about the gay composer Francis Poulenc that appeals to Bailey's "sense of what is right and wrong": "[Poulenc] confessed to his priest that he'd had a sexual encounter in a park with a stranger, and the priest--exasperated--stopped him short with the admonition: 'Stop wasting our time.
The four-hands programme includes sonatas by Mozart and Schubert, as well as a piece by one of the 20th century's most fascinating composers for the piano, Francis Poulenc.
Griffin's considerable intellectual life was nurtured by remarkable friends and mentors, including the poet Pierre Reverdy, composer Francis Poulenc, and musicians Nadia Boulanger and Robert Casadesus.
It was Beguin's edition of Bernanos' play that moved the French composer Francis Poulenc when he saw it on stage in Paris.
Reilly's book consists of 39 brief reviews of 20th century composers, arranged alphabetically from John Adams, to Francis Poulenc, to Hector Villa-Lobos.
El cuarto concierto de la por terminar Temporada de Primavera de la Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional rindio uno de sus programados homenajes al compositor galo Francis Poulenc, en el centenario de su natalicio.
Freedman used incidental piano music by Francis Poulenc because it struck him as "sprightly, attractive, fun and not laden with psychology, sentimentality or charged emotion.