French composer and pianist. A self-taught composer of witty and irreverent music, he was a member of the group of French composers known as Les Six. Among his many works are the operas Les Mamelles de Tirésias/The Breasts of Tiresias (1947) and Dialogues des Carmélites/Dialogues of the Carmelites (1957), and the ballet Les Biches/The Little Darlings (1923).
Poulenc was born in Paris. He received a classical education, and took piano lessons from Ricardo Viñes. When he was called up for war service in 1918 he had already written one or two works under the influence of Erik Satie, and on being demobilized he joined the group of ‘Les Six’ with Auric, Durey, Honegger, Milhaud, and Tailleferre, and thus came for a time under the influence of Jean Cocteau, notably with his three songs Cocardes in 1919. A commission from Diaghilev led to the ballet score Les Biches, influenced by the neoclassical brilliance of Stravinsky but also containing Poulenc's characteristic wit, charm, and melancholy. Similar traits are found in his great series of songs 1919–60, settings of poems by Apollinaire, Ronsard, Eluard, Colette, and Vilmorin.
WorksStage opera Dialogues des Carmélites (1957); comic opera Les Mamelles de Tirésias (libretto by Guillaume Apollinaire, 1947), monodrama La voix humaine (1959).
Choral Mass in G minor (1937) and cantata Figure humaine (Paul Eluard); choruses (unaccompanied), Gloria (1959).
OrchestralConcert champêtre for harpsichord and orchestra (1928), concerto in D minor for two pianos and orchestra (1932), organ concerto (1938); piano concerto (1949).
Chamber much music for wind instruments, including trio for oboe, bassoon, and piano (1926); also violin and piano and cello and piano sonatas (1943, 1948).
PianoMouvements perpétuels (1918), Nocturnes (1929–38), and other pieces.
SongsTel jour, telle nuit (1937), Fiançailles pour rire (1939), and other songs.
Poulenc, Francis Jean Marcel
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