Francis Jean Marcel Poulenc was born in 1899 and died in 1963 a few weeks after his 64th birthday. A French composer and pianist, he was born and died in Paris.

Poulenc comes from a prominent family. His father, Emile, worked for the family business – the Poulenc Brothers Company, a pharmaceutical company. The company was started by Emile’s father. Poulenc did not follow in his father’s footsteps. Like many of the pianists we have looked at, he started to play the piano at a young age (5 years old) and his first lessons came from his family, in this case his mother, an amateur pianist. He became a pupil of Ricardo Viñes at the age of 14. In addition to playing the piano, Poulenc composed. He was mostly self taught in composition. He did study composition formally for about 4 years starting at the age of 22.

Around the age of 17, he was introduced to the world of poetry and to several poets through mutual friends. He would set some of this poetry to music over the years. At around the same time, Poulenc met several other young composers. They would become known as Les Six and collaborated on concerts and recordings until the early 1920s.

We have the pleasure of hearing two of Poulenc’s pieces this coming season. Pianist Simon Trpčeski will play a selection of Poulenc’s piano pieces in November and baritone Elliot Madore treats us to Banalités in March.


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