Francis Poulenc


Born: Jan 7, 1899; France   Died: Jan 30, 1963; France   Period: 20th Century
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 Read more 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. Read less
Half Monk, Half Rascal - Poulenc: Choral Music / Layton, Danish National Vocal Ensemble
Release Date: 03/27/2012   Label: Our Recordings  
Catalog: 8226906   Number of Discs: 1
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Poulenc: Complete Works For Two Pianos / Pöntinen, Derwinger
Release Date: 10/12/1994   Label: Bis  
Catalog: 593   Number of Discs: 1
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Debussy, Poulenc: Sonatas;  Martin: Ballade / Conway, Evans
Release Date: 08/15/2000   Label: Linn Records  
Catalog: 002   Number of Discs: 1
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Diamonds - Poulenc, Milhaud, Börtz, Et Al / Orphei Dränger
Release Date: 05/27/2003   Label: Bis  
Catalog: 1233   Number of Discs: 1
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Danses Et Divertissements - Taffanel, Poulenc, Jolivet, Tomasi / Hough, Berlin Philharmonic Woodwind Quintet
Release Date: 05/26/2009   Label: Bis  
Catalog: 1532   Number of Discs: 1
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There are 726 Francis Poulenc recordings available.

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Composition Types

Francis Poulenc

Poulenc: Sonata for Clarinet and Piano - 1. Allegro tristement
Poulenc: Sonata for Clarinet and Piano - 2. Romanza
Poulenc: Sonata for Clarinet and Piano - 3. Allegro con fuoco
Allegro malinconico
Cantilena: Assez lent
Presto giocoso
Allegro vivace
Divertissement: Andantino
Finale: Prestissimo
Allegro giocoso
Subito andante moderato
Tempo allegro, molto agitato
Très calme. Lent
Tempo de l'allegro initial
Tempo introduction. Largo
Poulenc: Concerto for 2 Pianos and Orchestra in D minor - 1. Allegro ma non troppo
Poulenc: Concerto for 2 Pianos and Orchestra in D minor - 2. Larghetto
Poulenc: Concerto for 2 Pianos and Orchestra in D minor - 3. Finale (Allegro molto)
Mouvements perpétuels: Assez modéré
Très modéré
1. Gloria
2. Laudamus te
3. Domine Deus
4. Domini Fili Unigenite
5. Domine Deus, Agnus Dei
6. Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris
1. Bransle de Bourgogne
2. Pavane
3. Petite marche militaire
4. Complainte
5. Bransle de Champagne
6. Sicilienne
7. Carillon

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