Monday, January 7, 2013
French composer and pianist Francis Poulenc was born on January 7, 1899, in Paris. Largely self-taught, he is regarded as one of the most important modern composers of religious music, which he produced after an awakening in 1936, including the Stabat Mater (1950), his ethereal O Magnum Mysterium (1952), and his celebrated choral work, Gloria (1961). He also composed a wide range of secular solo piano music, ballet music, French art songs, and chamber, choral, orchestral and organ music. In the 1920s he was a leading figure in the avant-garde group called Les Six, including Arthur Honegger and Darius Milhaud, who steered music away from Impressionism, formality and intellectualism. He was partly influenced by Stravinsky, but also by Satie and Debussy. Much of Poulenc’s music is marked by lyrical melody, often contrasting the witty and ironic with the melancholy.