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Germaine Tailleferre

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Germaine Tailleferre (April 19, 1892 - November 7, 1983) was a French composer and the only female member of the famous Group Les Six.

Born Marcelle Taillefesse at Saint Maur Des Fossés, Île-de-France, France, as a young woman she changed her last name to “Tailleferre” to spite her father who had refused to support her musical studies. She studied piano with her mother at home, composing short works of her own and then began studying at the Conservatory in Paris where she met Louis Durey, Francis Poulenc, Darius Milhaud, Georges Auric and Arthur Honegger. At the Paris Conservatory she won first prize in several categories and wrote the 18 short works in the Petit livre de harpe de Madame Tardieu for Caroline Tardieu, the Conservatory’s Assistant Professor of Harp.

With her new friends, she soon was associating with the artistic crowd in Montmartre and Montparnasse including the sculptor Emmanuel Centore who would eventually marry her sister Jeanne. It was in the Montparnasse atelier of one of her painter friends where the initial idea for Les Six began. The publication of Jean Cocteau’s manifest Le Coq et l’Arlequin resulted in Henri Collet’s media articles that led to instant fame for the group. She was the only female member of the Groupe des Six.

The group published an album of piano pieces together (the famous “Album des Six”). Five of the members also collaborated together on the music for Cocteau’s work “Les Mariés de La Tour Eiffel”. Cocteau had originally proposed the project to Auric, but as Auric did not finish rapidly enough to fit into the rehearsal schedule, he then divided the work up among the other members of the Les Six.

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