His compositions include mélodies, solo piano works, chamber music, choral pieces, operas, ballets, and orchestral concert music. As the only son of a prosperous manufacturer Poulenc was expected to follow his father into the family firm, and he was not allowed to enrol at a music college. Largely self-educated harmonies et Fanfares en Indre-et-Loire PDF, he studied with the pianist Ricardo Viñes, who became his mentor after the composer’s parents died.
Je me souviens encore de la première fois où je suis entré dans la salle de répétition de la fanfare municipale de mon village. Je devais avoir dix ou onze ans, quelques années de solfège derrière moi et de nombreuses autres de pratique devant moi. C’était un samedi soir, vers 20h00, en octobre si j’ai bonne mémoire. La salle se trouvait au premier étage d’un bâtiment contigu à la mairie. Sur un parquet vieilli et Sali par les années, deux rang »es de pupitres et de bancs se faisaient face en arêtes de poisson. Au milieu de la pièce trônait un vieux poêle à bois qui fumait. Nous étions alors trois jeunes musiciens à rejoindre les anciens : un clarinettiste et un trompettiste comme moi.
In addition to composing, Poulenc was an accomplished pianist. Denise Duval, touring in Europe and America with each, and making many recordings. In his later years, and for decades after his death, Poulenc had a reputation, particularly in his native country, as a humorous, lightweight composer, and his religious music was often overlooked. Poulenc was born in the 8th arrondissement of Paris, the younger child and only son of Émile Poulenc and his wife, Jenny, née Royer.
Poulenc to Adrienne Monnier’s bookshop, the Maison des Amis des Livres. He was a most delightful man, a bizarre hidalgo with enormous moustachios, a flat-brimmed sombrero in the purest Spanish style, and button boots which he used to rap my shins when I didn’t change the pedalling enough. I admired him madly, because, at this time, in 1914, he was the only virtuoso who played Debussy and Ravel. Viñes became more than a teacher: he was, in the words of Myriam Chimènes in the Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, the young man’s « spiritual mentor ». Auric’s music had already been performed at important Parisian concert venues. The two young composers shared a similar musical outlook and enthusiasms, and for the rest of Poulenc’s life Auric was his most trusted friend and guide. Poulenc called him « my true brother in spirit ».
In 1917 Poulenc got to know Ravel well enough to have serious discussions with him about music. He was dismayed by Ravel’s judgments, which exalted composers whom Poulenc thought little of above those he greatly admired. From January 1918 to January 1921 Poulenc was a conscript in the French army in the last months of the First World War and the immediate post-war period. Jeremy Sams writes that it was the composer’s good luck that the public mood was turning against late-romantic lushness in favour of the « freshness and insouciant charm » of his works, technically unsophisticated though they were. In completely arbitrary fashion Collet chose the names of six composers, Auric, Durey, Honegger, Poulenc, Tailleferre and myself, for no other reason than that we knew each other, that we were friends and were represented in the same programmes, but without the slightest concern for our different attitudes and our different natures. Cocteau, though similar in age to Les Six, was something of a father-figure to the group.
His literary style, « paradoxical and lapidary » in Hell’s phrase, was anti-romantic, concise and irreverent. It greatly appealed to Poulenc, who made his first setting of Cocteau’s words in 1919 and his last in 1961. In the early 1920s Poulenc remained concerned at his lack of formal musical training. Milhaud suggested the composer and teacher Charles Koechlin. From the early 1920s Poulenc was well received abroad, particularly in Britain, both as a performer and a composer. In 1921 Ernest Newman wrote in The Manchester Guardian, « I keep my eye on Francis Poulenc, a young man who has only just arrived at his twenties. As the decade progressed, Poulenc produced a range of compositions, from songs to chamber music and another ballet, Aubade.