7th January 1899 --- 30th January 1963

Francis Poulenc(born 1899, Paris, France--died 1963, Paris), composer who made an important contribution to French music in the decades after World War I and whose songs are considered among the best composed during the 20th century.

Poulenc was largely self-taught. His first compositions--Rapsodie Nègre (1917), Trois Mouvements Perpétuels, for piano, and Sonata for Piano Duet (1918) and his settings of Guillaume Apollinaire's poem Le Bestiaire and Jean Cocteau's Cocardes (1919)--were witty pieces with streaks of impudent parody. Humour remained an important characteristic of his music, as in the Surrealistic comic opera Les Mamelles de Tirésias (1947, The Breasts of Tiresias), based on a farce by Apollinaire.

In 1920 the critic Henri Collet grouped Poulenc with five other young French composers, calling them "Les Six." The others were Arthur Honegger, Darius Milhaud, Georges Auric, Germaine Tailleferre, and Louis Durey; although they reacted in the same way to the emotionalism of 19th-century Romantic music and the Impressionism of Claude Debussy, they were in fact united by friendship more than by aesthetic ideals. Poulenc studied with the composer and teacher Charles Koechlin from 1921 to 1924. His ballet Les Biches (English title The Houseparty) was produced by Sergey Diaghilev in 1924. He composed his song cycles Poèmes de Ronsard and Chansons gaillardes in 1924 and 1926. There followed more than 100 songs, chiefly on poems by Apollinaire (e.g., "Banalités," 1940), and Paul Éluard (e.g., "Tel jour, telle nuit," 1937).

In 1934 Poulenc appeared as piano accompanist to the baritone Pierre Bernac in the first of many recitals over several years, an experience that deepened his understanding of the song as an art form. His songs, which range from parody to tragedy, are admired for their lyricism and for their sensitive integration of vocal line and accompaniment. His Concert champêtre for harpsichord (or piano) and orchestra (1928) was written at the suggestion of harpsichordist Wanda Landowska. Like many of his keyboard works, it mingles the light, urbane character of 18th-century French keyboard music with 20th-century harmonies.

During the 1930s Poulenc wrote many religious works, including Litanies à la Vierge Noire de Rocomadour (1936), Mass in G Major (1937), and Stabat Mater (1951). He participated in the French resistance movement during World War II. Figure humaine (performed 1945), a cantata based on poems by Éluard, voiced the spirit of the resistance and was secretly printed during the Nazi occupation. His opera Les dialogues des Carmélites (1953-56, libretto by Georges Bernanos) is considered one of the finest operas of the 20th century. Other widely performed works by Poulenc were the Sextet for piano and wind quintet (1930-32), Organ Concerto (1938), and Oboe Sonata (1962).

Copyright 1994-1998 Encyclopaedia Britannica

Last Updated on 19th May 2002
By Steven

And now for the Music

I would like to extend my thanks to Bart Bracke for this lovely piece. Email (">Bart and let him know how much you like the music.

(2533) From "chansons villegeoiges " le retour du sergeant", Sequenced by Bart Bracke.

My thanks go to Terence Bloem for sending this lovely piece of music, email (">TERENCE here. and let him know your feeling on the music.

(2020)"Hymne, 2nd mvt of his Trois Pieces" Sequenced by Terence Bloem.

(553) "Pastorale" Trois Pièces I. Seq by Richard Summers

(1820) "Gloria" Sequenced by Michael Petri

(1821) "Flute Sonata" Sequencer Unknown

(1822) "Les Soirées de Nazelles I,Le comble de la distinction" Sequenced by Richard Summers

(1823) "Organ Concerto" Sequenced by Ralph van Zetten, modified to GM by Dr.David Siu

(1824) "Motets pour un temps de p'nitence, No.1 Timor et tremor" Sequenced by Dr.David Siu

(1825) "Motets pour un temps de p'nitence, No.2 Vinea mea electa" Sequenced by Dr.David Siu

(1826)"Motets pour un temps de p'nitence, No.3 Tenebrae factae sunt" Sequenced by Dr.David Siu

(1827)"Motets pour un temps de p'nitence, No.4 Tristis est anima mea" Sequenced by Dr.David Siu

Grateful thanks go to Edward Gold for sequencing and donating the following lovely piece. Email ("> Edward with any comments.

(773) "Suite Francaise" Sequenced by Edward Gold

Thanks goes to Welton Barker for donating and sequencing the following file. (you will find a link to his site in my links page)

(436) "Caprice en ut majeur (d'apres la Finale du Bal Masque)" Seq by Welton Barker

(552) "Les Soirées de Nazelles II" Le coeur sur la main. Seq by Richard Summers

(554) "Très modéré"Mouvments Perpétuels II. Seq by Richard Summers

(555) "Alerte" Mouvments Perpétuels III. Seq by Richard Summers

(556) "Toccata" Trois Pièces III. Seq by Richard Summers

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