He was one of those composers connected to many other artists and creative souls in his time which, if you’re a -classical- music lover looking to intuitively discovering new music or art, wouldn’t leave you feel deprived of anything essential if you start with Francis Poulenc (1899-1963) and follow his career, and the social circles he traveled.
He was born in Paris, where he also passed away, just two days after performing in Maastricht back in 1963. His concert was at the Staargebouw where he performed with Denise Duval, a French soprano who only passed away last year, in 2016. According to testimonies of those attending that Maastricht concert, Poulenc started with Les Biches, ballet music he wrote on commission for the Russian art critic and ballet impresario and producer Sergei Diaghilev.
Poulenc’s compositions range from easy uplifting tunes to chamber music, opera and even film scores. He wrote music for all genres, and devoted a lot of attention to melodic lines in his compositions. It was his belief to enchant larger audiences by giving them lingering melodies rather than having to dig deep into the artsy realms of, for example, avant-garde. But Poulenc could do both, light-weight as well as avant-garde, after all, many of his friends and contemporaries were artists.
The Dutch brothers Lucas and Arthur Jussen recorded an album playing Poulenc’s music with the Concertgebouw Orchestra and conductor Stéphane Denève which was rated #1 on France Musique.