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Francis Poulenc


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France (1899 – 1963)

Francis Jean Marcel Poulenc (January 7, 1899 - January 30, 1963) was a French composer and a member of the French Group Les Six.

He was a Parisian by birth and death, and always preferred the city to the country. His mother, an amateur pianist, taught him to play, and music formed a part of family life.

Poulenc was a member of Les Six, a group of young French composers, Darius Milhaud, Georges Auric, Louis Durey, Arthur Honegger and Germaine Tailleferre, who also had links with Erik Satie and Jean Cocteau. He embraced the movement’s techniques, creating melodies that would have been appropriate for Parisian music halls. An outstanding pianist, Poulenc featured the keyboard in many of his early compositions. He also, throughout his career, borrowed from his own compositions as well as those of Mozart and Camille Saint-Saëns.

He composed music in all major genres, including art song, chamber music, oratorio, opera, ballet music and orchestral music. Among Poulenc’s last series of major works is a series of works for Winds and Piano. He was particularly fond of the woodwind instruments, and planned a set of sonatas for all of them, yet only lived to complete four: the Flute Sonata (1956), and sonatas for oboe, clarinet and horn.

Poulenc’s Rapsodie nègre (1917), written for baritone, piano, string quartet, flute, and clarinet, sets nonsense syllables purportedly by a black Liberian poet.


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  • Adaviri

    His two piano concertos are absolutely beautiful, they make me laugh, they make me weep, and they make me think - not to mention the surprising moments of nobleness and even majesty, such as the brass in the Allegretto of 'in C♯ minor'. I knew his voice to be to my liking even before these two, but they have now solidifed and remarkably strengthened this conception. I'll definitely be getting to know him better.

    17 Nov 2013 Reply
  • bas_VI

    Poulenc actually playing Satie's Gymnopedie #1: He is the performer, not the composer. Some people have tagged their music by performer instead of by composer, hence why it shows up here

    12 Mar 2013 Reply
  • Moodiesfan41

    The second movement from the Piano Concerto sounds like Tonite it Shows from Mercury Rev. :D

    28 Sep 2012 Reply
  • tillyg

    Gymnopedie No. 1 is by Eric Satie, not Poulenc!!!

    21 Sep 2012 Reply
  • MusicHallofFame

    The Music Hall of Fame are delighted to induct Francis Poulenc into the Class of 1983. Congratulations. Please vist our page too see the latest inductees into the Music Hall of Fame.

    26 Aug 2012 Reply
  • Bacteria4

    I think whoever composed the Apocalypse now soundtrack must have listened to his Concerto for Organ. Quite a few similarities

    18 Jan 2012 Reply
  • Aotus

    I'm looking for the 1957 Flute Sonata, can anyone point me in the right direction? Thanks!

    14 Apr 2011 Reply
  • yu00

    Such a great composer, I particularly love his organ concerto and his sinfonietta

    26 Mar 2011 Reply
  • ConkertheKing

    Playing the double piano concerto in our orchestra. good stuff!

    18 Sep 2010 Reply
  • Zlotythepoet

    Ou sont les "animaux modeles"? :(

    27 May 2010 Reply
  • Crashnodarfan

    Sombre nuit, aveugles ténèbres, Fuyez; Le jour s'approche et l'Olympe blanchit

    23 Apr 2010 Reply
  • theo_equis

    poulenc is where it's at

    21 Mar 2010 Reply
  • oseland

    ha, poo-long.

    22 Feb 2010 Reply
  • wafizainalmusic

    Dialogues of the Carmelites!

    10 Feb 2010 Reply
  • freezegelman

    nocturne #5 is where its at

    17 Jan 2010 Reply
  • moonlit_reverie

    Happy Birthday Poulenc! :)

    7 Jan 2010 Reply
  • _KevMusic_

    Everything he writes is so damned perfect :) The violin sonata is one of the most perfect things in existence, in my opinion. Beautiful, haunting, angry, dissonant yet melodic - simply perfect. And very definitely in my top 5 violin sonatas (the others being Prok 1, Enescu 3, Franck and about 50 others - as is how it is when there is such a wealth of "back catalogue")

    3 Feb 2009 Reply
  • tbwilliams

    French pronunciation sounds a lot like 'poo-long'. You don't actually make a harsh 'kuh' sound at the end. Just say poolong and deaden the 'ng' sound quickly. It'll sound pretty much right

    25 Nov 2008 Reply
  • Epitymbidia

    Hm, for those who are able to read the International Phonetic Alphabet it's quite simple: [pulɛ̃k], but the main problem is, I think, that there is no sound as the French [ɛ̃] in English. The one English open-mid front unrounded vowel [ɛ] is quite different from the French two, especially from the [ɛ̃]... So maybe "Pool-Ahnk" is really not so bad. I would have said "Pool-Unc" though, with "unc" as in "uncle", but with a long vowel...

    17 Nov 2008 Reply
  • nplanet

    What is the correct pronunciation of his last name?

    21 Oct 2008 Reply
  • All 29 shouts

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