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Classiscsonline Home » Composers » P » Poulenc, Francis

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Francis Poulenc (1/07/1899 - 1/30/1963)

The French composer Francis Poulenc only undertook formal musical training, with Charles Koechlin, in 1921, by which time he had already become identified with Les Six, the six French composers of the circle of Jean Cocteau that included Honegger, Auric and Milhaud. His music was initially lightweight in style, but the death of a close friend in 1935 brought a new depth to his work at the same time as the start of a long collaboration with the singer Pierre Bernac.

Stage Works

Poulenc won considerable success with his comic opera Les Mamelles de Tirésias (‘The Breasts of Tiresias’), with a text by Apollinaire. It was written during the later days of World War Two and staged in Paris in 1947. The tragic opera Dialogues des Carmélites (‘Dialogues of the Carmelites’) is part of the international operatic repertoire. Its libretto is based on a play by Georges Bernanos dealing with the execution of Carmelite nuns during the French Revolution, itself based on Gertrud von Le Fort’s novel Die Letzte am Schafott (‘The Last on the Scaffold’). Other stage works, in addition to a number of scores of incidental music and film music, include the ballet Les Biches, first staged in Monte Carlo in 1924.

Orchestral Music

Poulenc’s orchestral music includes a suite from Les Biches, the charming Concert champêtre for harpsichord and small orchestra, and concertos for organ, for piano and for two pianos.



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