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Francis Poulenc

January 7, 1899 - January 30, 1963
born in Paris, France, composed during the Modern period
Francis Poulenc was the leading composer of Les Six, the French group devoted to turning music away from Impressionism, formality, and intellectualism. He wrote in a direct and tuneful manner, often juxtaposing the witty and ironic with the sentimental or melancholy. He heavily favored diatonic and modal textures over chromatic writing. His music also shows many elements of pandiatonicism, introduced around 1920 by Stravinsky, whose influence can be heard in some of Poulenc's compositions, such as the religious choral work, Gloria. Poulenc is regarded as one of the most important twentieth century composers of religious music, and in the realm of the French art song he is also a major voice of his time. Poulenc was also a pianist of considerable ability.

Poulenc was born into a wealthy family of pharmaceutical magnates. The agrochemical giant Rhone-Poulenc is the present-day corporation started by his forebears. His mother was a talented amateur pianist who began giving him piano lessons at age five. Later Poulenc studied with a niece of César Franck, and then with the eminent Spanish virtuoso Ricardo Viñes, for whom he would later write music.

At age eighteen, Poulenc wrote Rapsodie Nègre for baritone and chamber ensemble, which made him an overnight sensation in France. The young composer served in the military during the years 1918-1921, during which time he composed the popular Trois Mouvements Perpétuels (1918).

By 1920, Les Six -- Georges Auric, Arthur Honegger, Darius Milhaud, Germaine Tailleferre (the sextet's lone female representative), Louis Durey, and Francis Poulenc -- had begun making its impression on the music world. In 1923, Poulenc wrote the ballet Les Biches, which Diaghilev staged the following year with great success, the public finding its mixture of lightness, gaiety, and occasional moments of sentimentality irresistible. Poulenc continued writing at a fairly prolific pace in the late 1920s and early 1930s, producing many piano compositions, songs and other works. In 1935, he rekindled his friendship with baritone Pierre Bernac, thus launching a productive and enduring professional relationship. He also returned to the Roman Catholic Church that year when close friend Pierre-Octave Ferroud was killed in an automobile accident. Thereafter he wrote many important works of a religious nature, the first of which were Litanies à la Vierge Noire, for soloists, chorus and organ, and Mass in G for mixed a cappella chorus, both from 1936.

During the war, Poulenc remained in German-occupied France, writing music of an antiwar or defiantly anti-Nazi bent, sometimes writing songs on texts by banned authors, such as Lorca. He also wrote a ballet Les Animaux Modèles (1940-1941), Sonata for violin and piano (1942-1943; rev. 1949) dedicated to Lorca, and the masterful Figure Humaine (1943), a choral cantata which is a hymn to freedom.

In the postwar years, Poulenc turned out his Sinfonietta (1947) and Piano Concerto (1949), both not entirely successful. 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.

Poulenc finished his last opera in 1958, La Voix Humaine, a work whose lone character talks (sings) on the phone to her deserting lover for the work's 45-minute length. Notable also in this period is his Gloria (1959), a work shorn of sanctimony and rich in communicative simplicity and fervent religiosity. Poulenc's last major work was his Sonata for Oboe and Piano in 1962, dedicated to the memory of Prokofiev, whom he had befriended in the 1920s. Poulenc died suddenly of a heart attack. ~ Robert Cummings, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Le Bal Masque, Le Bestiaire, Sextet

Title: Le Bal Masqué, For Baritone (Or Mezzo-soprano) & Chamber Ensemble, Fp 60
Title: Trio For Oboe, Bassoon & Piano, Fp 43
Title: Le Bestiaire (Cortège D'orphée), Song Cycle For Voice & Piano (Or Chamber Ensemble), Fp 15a
Title: Sextet For Wind Quintet & Piano In C Major, Fp 100
x

Track List: Poulenc - Aubade · Les Biches · Les Animaux Modèles / Pascal Rogé · Charles Dutoit

Title: Les Biches, Suite For Orchestra (from The Ballet), FP 36
Title: Les Animaux Modèles, Suite For Orchestra, FP 111
Title: Matelote Provençale, For Orchestra (for Collab. Work, La Guirlande De Campra), FP 153
Title: Pastourelle, Ballet Movement (For Collab. Work, L'éventail De Jeanne), Fp 45
Title: Valse (pour Micheline Soulé), For Piano In C Major (for Collab. Work, Album Des Six), FP 17
Title: Discours Du Général, Ballet Movement (for Collab. Ballet, Les Mariés De La Tour Eiffel, By Les Six), FP 23/1
Title: La Baigneuse De Trouville, Ballet Movement (for Collab. Ballet, Les Mariés De La Tour Eiffel, By Les Six), FP 23/2
Title: Aubade, Choreographic Concerto For Piano & 18 Instruments, FP 51
Title: Deux Préludes Posthumes Et 3e Gnossienne (orchestraton Of 3 Piano Works Of Erik Satie), FP 104
x

Track List: Poulenc: Choral Music

Disc 1
Title: Figure Humaine, Cantata For 12 Voices, Fp 120
Title: Quatre Motets Pour Un Temps De Pénitence, For Chorus, Fp 97
Title: Laudes De Saint Antoine De Padoue (4), For Male Chorus, Fp 172
Title: Quatre Motets Pour Le Temps De Noël, For Chorus, Fp 152
Title: Quatre Petites Prières De Saint François D'assise, For Men's Chorus, Fp 142
Disc 2
Title: Salve Regina, For Chorus, Fp 110
Title: Ave Verum Corpus, Motet For Female Voices, Fp 154
Title: Exultate Deo, Motet For Solemn Occasions, For Chorus, Fp 109
Title: Messe En Sol Majeur
Title: Un Soir De Neige, Chamber Cantata For 6 Voices (Or Chorus), Fp 126
Title: Chansons Françaises (8), For Chorus, Fp 130
Title: Chanson à Boire, For Male Chorus, Fp 31
Title: Sept Chansons, For Chorus, Fp 81
x

Track List: Poulenc: Complete Chamber Music, Vol. 3

Title: Capriccio For 2 Pianos (After Le Bal Masqué), Fp 155
Title: Sonata For 2 Pianos, Fp 156
Title: Élégie (en accords alternés), for 2 pianos, FP 175
Title: L'embarquement Pour Cythère, Valse-musette For 2 Pianos (From Film, Le Voyage En Amérique), Fp 150
Title: Sonata For Piano, 4 Hands, Fp 8
Title: Sonata For 2 Clarinets, Fp 7
Title: Sonata For Clarinet & Bassoon, Fp 32
Title: Sonata for horn, trumpet & trombone, FP 33
x

Track List: Poulenc: Complete Chamber Music, Vol. 4

Title: Le Bal Masqué, For Baritone (Or Mezzo-soprano) & Chamber Ensemble, Fp 60
Title: Le Bestiaire (Cortège D'orphée), Song Cycle For Voice & Piano (Or Chamber Ensemble), Fp 15a
Title: Quatre Poèmes De Max Jacob, For Baritone Voice & Wind Ensemble, FP 22
Title: Rapsodie Nègre, For Baritone & Chamber Ensemble, Fp 3
Title: Cocardes, Song Cycle For Voice & Piano (or Ensemble), FP 16
Title: éLégie, For Horn & Piano, Fp 168
Title: Sarabande for guitar, FP 179
x

Track List: Poulenc: Concert Champetre; Sinfonietta; Suite Francaise

Title: Sinfonietta, For Chamber Orchestra, FP 141
Title: Concert Champêtre, For Harpsichord & Orchestra, FP 49
Title: Pièce Brève Sur Le Nom D'Albert Roussel, For Piano (for Collab. Work, Hommage À Albert Roussel), FP 50
Title: Bucolique, For Orchestra (for Collab. Work, Variations Sur Le Nom De Marguerite Long), FP 160
Title: Esquisse D'un Fanfare, For Winds, Percussion & Piano (overture For Act V Of Shakespeare, Roméo & Juliet), FP 25
Title: Deux Marches Et Un Intermède, For Chamber Orchestra, FP 88
Title: Suite Française (d'après Claude Gervaise), For Winds, Percussion & Harpsichord, FP 80
x

Track List: Poulenc: Concerto for organ & strings in Gm

Title: Concerto For Organ, Strings & Timpani In G Minor, FP 93
Title: Concert Champêtre, For Harpsichord & Orchestra, FP 49
Title: Suite Française (d'après Claude Gervaise), For Winds, Percussion & Harpsichord, FP 80
x

Track List: Poulenc: Dialogues des Carmélites

Disc 1
Title: Dialogues Des Carmélites, Opera, FP 159
Disc 2
x

Track List: Poulenc: Gloria; Stabat Mater

x

Track List: Poulenc: Piano Music Vol. 1 - Eight Nocturnes; Promenades; Three Intermezzi

Title: Nocturnes (8) For Piano, Fp 56
Title: Suite For Piano In C Major, FP 19
Title: Promenades (10) For Piano, FP 24
Title: Pastourelle, Ballet Movement (For Collab. Work, L'éventail De Jeanne), Fp 45
Title: Villageoises, Petites Pièces Infantines, For Piano, FP 65
Title: Feuillets D'album (3), For Piano, FP 68
Title: Intermezzi (2) For Piano, FP 71
Title: Intermezzo No. 3 For Piano In A Flat Major, FP 118
Title: Bourrée Au Pavillon D'Auvergne, For Piano (A L'exposition), FP 87
Title: Valse (pour Micheline Soulé), For Piano In C Major (for Collab. Work, Album Des Six), FP 17
x

Track List: Poulenc: Piano Music, Vol. 2

Title: Mélancolie, For Piano, FP 105
Title: Trois Mouvements Perpétuels, For Piano, Fp 14
Title: Suite Française (d'après Claude Gervaise), For Piano (arr. From Chamber Version), FP 80
Title: Pièce Brève Sur Le Nom D'Albert Roussel, For Piano (for Collab. Work, Hommage À Albert Roussel), FP 50
Title: Badinage, For Piano, FP 73
Title: Les Soirées De Nazelles, For Piano, FP 84
Title: Humoresque For Piano, FP 72
Title: Valse-improvisation Sur Le Nom De Bach, For Piano (for Collab. Work, Hommage À Bach), FP 62
Title: Impromptus (5) For Piano, FP 21
Title: Presto For Piano In B Flat Major, FP 70
x

Track List: Poulenc: Piano Music, Vol. 3

Title: Thème Varié, For Piano, FP 151
Title: Improvisation No. 1 For Piano In B Minor (Presto Ritmico), FP 63/1
Title: Improvisation No. 2 For Piano In A Flat Major (Assez Animé), FP 63/2
Title: Improvisation No. 3 For Piano In B Minor (Presto Très Sec), FP 63/3
Title: Improvisation No. 4 For Piano In A Flat Major (Presto Con Fuoco), FP 63/4
Title: Improvisation No. 5 For Piano In A Minor (Modéré Mais Sans Lenteur), FP 63/5
Title: Improvisation No. 6 For Piano In B Flat Major (A Toute Vitesse), FP 63/6
Title: Improvisation No. 7 For Piano In C Major (Modéré Sans Lenteur), FP 63/7
Title: Improvisation No. 8 For Piano In A Minor (Presto), FP 63/8
Title: Improvisation No. 9 For Piano In D Major (Presto Possible), FP 63/9
Title: Improvisation No. 10 For Piano In F Major ("Eloge Des Gammes"), FP 63/10
Title: Improvisation No. 11 For Piano In G Minor (Assez Animé), FP 113/1
Title: Improvisation No. 12 For Piano In E Flat Major ("Hommage À Schubert"), FP 113/2
Title: Improvisation No. 13 For Piano In A Minor (Allegretto Comodo), FP 170/1
Title: Improvisation No. 14 For Piano In D Flat Major (Allegretto), FP 170/2
Title: Improvisation No. 15 For Piano In C Minor ("Hommage à éDith Piaf"), Fp 176
Title: Trois Pièces, For Piano, FP 48
Title: Napoli, Suite For Piano, FP 40
Title: Novelettes (2) For Piano, FP 47
Title: Novelette Sur Un Thème De Manuel De Falla, For Piano In E Minor (No. 3), Fp 173
x

Track List: Poulenc: Piano Works

Title: Les Soirées De Nazelles, For Piano, FP 84
Title: Novelettes (3) For Piano, FP 47 & 173
Title: Pastourelle, Ballet Movement (For Collab. Work, L'éventail De Jeanne), Fp 45
Title: Trois Mouvements Perpétuels, For Piano, Fp 14
Title: Valse (pour Micheline Soulé), For Piano In C Major (for Collab. Work, Album Des Six), FP 17
Title: Improvisation No. 1 For Piano In B Minor (Presto Ritmico), FP 63/1
Title: Improvisation No. 2 For Piano In A Flat Major (Assez Animé), FP 63/2
Title: Improvisation No. 3 For Piano In B Minor (Presto Très Sec), FP 63/3
Title: Improvisation No. 6 For Piano In B Flat Major (A Toute Vitesse), FP 63/6
Title: Improvisation No. 7 For Piano In C Major (Modéré Sans Lenteur), FP 63/7
Title: Improvisation No. 8 For Piano In A Minor (Presto), FP 63/8
Title: Improvisation No. 12 For Piano In E Flat Major ("Hommage À Schubert"), FP 113/2
Title: Improvisation No. 13 For Piano In A Minor (Allegretto Comodo), FP 170/1
Title: Improvisation No. 15 For Piano In C Minor ("Hommage à éDith Piaf"), Fp 176
Title: Trois Pièces, For Piano, FP 48
x

Track List: Poulenc: Sacred & Secular Choral Works

Disc 1
Title: Exultate Deo, Motet For Solemn Occasions, For Chorus, Fp 109
Title: Litanies à La Vierge Noire, For Women's Chorus & Organ (Or Strings & Timpani), Fp 82
Title: Quatre Motets Pour Un Temps De Pénitence, For Chorus, Fp 97
Title: Salve Regina, For Chorus, Fp 110
Title: Laudes De Saint Antoine De Padoue (4), For Male Chorus, Fp 172
Title: Ave Verum Corpus, Motet For Female Voices, Fp 154
Title: Quatre Motets Pour Le Temps De Noël, For Chorus, Fp 152
Disc 2
Title: Sept Chansons, For Chorus, Fp 81
Title: Figure Humaine, Cantata For 12 Voices, Fp 120
Title: Chansons Françaises (8), For Chorus, Fp 130
Title: Un Soir De Neige, Chamber Cantata For 6 Voices (Or Chorus), Fp 126
Title: Chanson à Boire, For Male Chorus, Fp 31
x

Track List: Poulenc: Songs

Title: Banalités, Song Cycle For Voice & Piano, FP 107
Title: Montparnasse ("O Porte De L'hôtel Avec Deux Plantes Vertes"), Song For Voice & Piano, Fp 127/1
Title: Rosemonde ("Longtemps Au Pied Du Perron"), Song For Voice & Piano, Fp 158
Title: Bleuet ("Jeune Homme De Vingt Ans"), Song For Voice & Piano, FP 102
Title: Quatre Poèmes De Guillaume Apollinaire, For Voice & Piano, FP 58
Title: Tel Jour, Telle Nuit, Song Cycle For Voice & Piano, FP 86
Title: Chansons Gaillardes, Song Cycle For Voice & Piano, FP 42
Title: C'est Ainsi Que Tu Es ("Ta Chair, D'âme Mêlée"), Song For Voice & Piano (Métamorphoses), Fp 121/2
Title: C ("J'ai Traversé Les Ponts De Cé"), Song For Voice & Piano (Poèmes D'aragon), Fp 122/1
Title: Dernier Poème ("J'ai Rêvé Tellement Fort De Toi"), Song For Voice & Piano, FP 163
Title: Priez Pour Paix, Song For Voice & Piano, FP 95
Title: Chansons Villageoises, Song Cycle For Voice & Piano (reduct. Of Chamber Work), FP 117
x

Track List: Poulenc: Stabat Mater, Gloria, Litanies A La Vierge Noire

Title: Gloria, For Soprano, Chorus & Orchestra, Fp 177
Title: Litanies à La Vierge Noire, For Women's Chorus & Organ (Or Strings & Timpani), Fp 82
Title: Stabat Mater, For Soprano, Chorus & Orchestra, Fp 148
x

Track List: Poulenc: Stabat Mater/Gloria - Catherine Dubosc, Richard Hickox,

Title: Gloria, For Soprano, Chorus & Orchestra, Fp 177
Title: Stabat Mater, For Soprano, Chorus & Orchestra, Fp 148
Title: Litanies à La Vierge Noire, For Women's Chorus & Organ (Or Strings & Timpani), Fp 82
x

Track List: Poulenc: The Complete Chamber Music

Disc 1
Title: Sextet For Wind Quintet & Piano In C Major, Fp 100
Title: Sonata For Violin & Piano, Fp 119
Title: Sonata For 2 Clarinets, Fp 7
Title: Sonata for horn, trumpet & trombone, FP 33
Title: Sonata for cello & piano, FP 143
Disc 2
Title: Sonata For Clarinet & Piano, Fp 184
Title: Sarabande for guitar, FP 179
Title: Villanelle For Pipe (Or Flute) & Piano, Fp 74
Title: Sonata For Oboe & Piano, Fp 185
Title: éLégie, For Horn & Piano, Fp 168
Title: Trio For Oboe, Bassoon & Piano, Fp 43
Title: Sonata For Clarinet & Bassoon, Fp 32
Title: Sonata For Flute & Piano, Fp 164
x

Track List: Voyage à Paris ~ The Melodies of Francis Poulenc / Lott, Murray, Rolfe Johnson, G. Johnson

Title: Banalités, Song Cycle For Voice & Piano, FP 107
Title: Montparnasse ("O Porte De L'hôtel Avec Deux Plantes Vertes"), Song For Voice & Piano, Fp 127/1
Title: Hyde Park ("Les Faiseurs De Religion"), Song For Voice & Piano, Fp 127/2
Title: Bleuet ("Jeune Homme De Vingt Ans"), Song For Voice & Piano, FP 102
Title: Calligrammes, Song Cycle For Voice & Piano, FP 140
Title: Banalités, Song Cycle For Voice & Piano, FP 107
Title: Trois Poèmes De Louise Lalanne (3), For Voice & Piano, FP 57
Title: Tel Jour, Telle Nuit, Song Cycle For Voice & Piano, FP 86
Title: Miroirs Brûlants (2), For Voice & Piano, FP 98
Title: Métamorphoses, Song Cycle For Voice & Piano, FP 121
Title: Colloque, For Soprano, Baritone & Piano, FP 108
Title: Deux Poèmes De Louis Aragon, For Voice & Piano, FP 122
Title: Priez Pour Paix, Song For Voice & Piano, FP 95
Title: À Sa Guitare, For Voice & Guitar (or Harp/piano), FP 79
Title: Toréador, Song For Voice & Piano, FP 11
Title: Nous Voulons Une Petite Sœur, Song For Voice & Piano (4 Chansons Pour Enfants), FP 75/1
Title: Les Chemins De L'amour ("Les Chemins Qui Vont"), For Voice & Piano (Or Orchestra), Fp 106

Comments

dianedavis13 3 5
Haven't paid much attention to music after 1850, but love Poulenc. Diane Davis
This sation is soul food .....for those that are one. DMB
If you're a fan of Prokofiev's Third Piano Concerto and are looking for something similarly tuneful, witty and sparkling, try Poulenc's Sextet for Wind Instruments and Piano and the Piano Concerto in G Minor (yes, Poulenc actually wrote in key signatures and wasn't polytonal). He isn't as versed in form and counterpoint , but the music is similarly shimmering and attractive.
Poulenc's clarinet compositions are interesting and tough to play.
If you get a chance, give a good listen to his comic opera, Les Mammelles de Teresias. Hilarious. His Sextette is also one of my favorites. Haven't heard either one on Pandora yet.
clydedains1
Very nice.
deryasopher
He has very colorful music.
........this frog has a good haircut!!

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