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Poulenc: The Life in the Songs

Poulenc: The Life in the Songs

by Graham Johnson

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One of the greatest modernist composers comes alive in this illuminating biography, a must-have for musicians and music-lovers alike.

Francis Poulenc (1899–1963) is widely acknowledged as one of the twentieth century’s most significant masters of vocal music —solo, choral, and operatic— quite apart from his achievements in instrumental spheres. But what it cost him, and the determined bravery it took for his unusual talent to thrive, has always been underestimated. In this seminal biography, which will serve as the definitive guide to the songs, acclaimed collaborative pianist Graham Johnson shows that it is in Poulenc’s extraordinary songs, and seeing how they fit into his life —which included crippling guilt on account of his sexuality— that we discover Poulenc heart and soul. With Jeremy Sams’s vibrant new song translations, the first in over forty years, and the insight that comes from a lifetime of performing this music, Johnson provides an essential volume for singers, pianists, listeners, and readers interested in the artistic milieu of modernism in the first half of the twentieth century.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781631495243
Publisher: Liveright Publishing Corporation
Publication date: 06/23/2020
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 576
Sales rank: 1,050,174
File size: 29 MB
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About the Author

Graham Johnson is an award- winning pianist and senior professor of accompaniment at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. The author of Franz Schubert: The Complete Songs, he lives in London.

Table of Contents

Preface xiii

Map of Poulenc's France xvii


Outline of a Musical Life: 1855-1919 3

Songs for a New Century 13

Rapsodie nègre (Kangourou) FP3 13

Toréador (Cocteau) FP11 15

Le Bestiaire, ou Cortège d'Orphée (Apollinaire) FP15a 18

Two Unpublished Songs from Le Bestiaire FP15b 24

Biographical Interlude: Guillaume Apollinaire 25

Cocardes (Cocteau) FP16 30


Outline of a Musical Life: 1920-1929 39

Songs of the Twenties 49

Poèmes de Ronsard FP38 49

Chansons gaillardes FP42 59

Vocalise FP44 67

Airs chantés pour soprano d'après poèmes de Jean Moréas FP46 69


Outline of a Musical Life: 1930-1939 77

Songs of the Thirties 95

Épitaphe (Malherbe) FP55 95

Trois Poèmes de Louise Lalanne (Laurencin/Apollinaire) FP57 97

Quatre Poèmes de Guillaume Apollinaire FP58 102

Cinq Poèmes de Max Jacob FP59 108

Pierrot (Banville) FP66 116

Huit Chansons polonaises (Osiem piesni polskich) FP69 118

Quatre Chansons pour enfants (Jaboune) FP75 126

Cinq Poèmes de Paul Éluard FP77 136

Biographical Interlude: Paul Éluard 143

À sa guitare (Ronsard) FP79 148

Tel jour telle nuit (Éluard) FP86 152

Trois Poèmes de Louise de Vilmorin FP91 171

Le Portrait (Colette) FP92 181

Deux Poèmes de Guillaume Apollinaire FP94 185

The Sexual Milieu of Francis Poulenc 194

Priez pour paix (D'Orléans) FP95 199

La Grenouillère (Apollinaire) FP96 201

Miroirs brûlants (Éluard) FP98 204

Ce doux petit visage (Éluard) FP99 209

Fiançailles pour rire (Vilmorin) FP101 211

Bleuet (Apollinaire) FP102 223


Outline of a Musical Life: 1940-1949 229

Songs of the Forties 254

Les Chemins de l'amour (Anouilh) FP106 254

Banalités (Apollinaire) FP107 257

Colloque (Valéry) FP108 268

Chansons villageoises (Fombeure) FP117 271

Métamorphoses (Vilmorin) FP121 285

Deux Poèmes de Louis Aragon FP122 290

Deux Mélodies de Guillaume Apollinaire FP127 298

Deux Mélodies sur des poèmes de Guillaume Apollinaire FP131 303

Paul et Virginie (Radiguet) FP132 306

Le Disparu (Desnos) FP134 309

Main dominée par le cæur (Éluard) FP135 312

Trois Chansons de F. Garcia Lorca FP136 314

… mais mourir (Éluard) FP137 318

Calligrammes (Apollinaire) FP140 320

Hymne (Racine) FP144 332

Mazurka (Vilmorin) FP145 334


Outline of a Musical Life: 1950-1959 341

Songs of the Fifties 368

La Fraîcheur et le feu (Éluard) FP147 368

Biographical Interlude: Max Jacob 375

Parisiana (Jacob) FP157 378

Rosemonde (Apollinaire) FP158 382

The Crisis of 1954 383

Francis Poulenc and Painting 387

Le Travail du peintre (Éluard) FP161 389

Deux Mélodies 1956 (Apollinaire/Beylié) FP162 412

Dernier Poème (Desnos) FP163 416

Une chanson de porcelaine (Éluard) FP169 419

Fancy (Shakespeare) FP174 421

Poulenc and Britten: Cross-Channel Currents 423


Outline of a Musical Life: 1960 to 30 January 1963 433

Songs of the Sixties 442

La Courte paille (Carême) FP178 442

La Puce (Apollinaire) 455

La Dame de Monte-Carlo (Cocteau) FP180 456

Biographical Interlude: Jean Cocteau 464

Poulenc's People: Patrons, Friends, Colleagues, Dedicatees, Publishers 473

The Masks and Myths of Francis Poulenc, and His Eventual Triumph 483

Acknowledgments 497

Notes 499

Bibliography 523

Credits 525

Index of Song Titles 529

Index of Names 533

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