Cover image for Entrancing muse : a documented biography of Francis Poulenc
Entrancing muse : a documented biography of Francis Poulenc
Schmidt, Carl B.
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Publication Information:
Hillsdale, NY : Pendragon Press, [2001]
Physical Description:
xx, 621 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm.
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ML410.P787 S35 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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It is traditional wisdom that a composer's popularity wanes for at least ten years after his death. Not so with Poulenc, whose music gained almost universal acceptance immediately after his death at the age of sixty-four. The present documented biography charts a new course in Poulenc scholarship by relying on thousands of primary sources, many of which have not been consulted by previous Poulenc biographers. It is a detailed scrutiny of his day-to-day activities and his relationships with many friends and acquaintances. This study seeks not only to examine Poulenc as a composer, but to place proper emphasis on his extensive career as a pianist, accompanist, and recording artist. Written by Carl B. Schmidt, the author of the invaluable volume The Music of Francis Poulenc (1899-1963): A Catalogue, this fascinating and rewarding biography caps the year-long celebrations of the Poulenc centenary by allowing the reader to enter into the world of this complex, sophisticated, and witty homme du monde.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Intended as a sourcebook for future scholars and writers, this work on French composer Poulenc (1899-1963) contains more than 350 footnotes in some chapters. Indeed, what is offered here by Schmidt (The Music of Francis Poulenc: A Catalogue) is a chronological presentation of Poulenc's documented activities, including his substantial work as a pianist and recording artist. What could be observed and what was written down is reported; left to others are the deep insights into the man this evidence might support. Generous appendixes list people, summaries of Poulenc's public appearances, Poulenc's discography, and Poulenc portraits. In addition to a general index, there are two indexes of works by Poulenc and others. This scholarly work is recommended only for research libraries or those that own Schmidt's other Poulenc title and wish to supplement it. Benjamin Ivry's Francis Poulenc (Phaidon, 1996) is a fine, recent biography for the general public. Bonnie Jo Dopp, Univ. of Maryland Libs., College Park (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Were Poulenc still alive and writing his memoirs, he might want to consult Schmidt's comprehensive book to refresh his memory of the events of his life as a composer/performer! Based on ten years' research in primary and secondary sources--including manuscripts, newspapers, and published correspondence--this volume deals comprehensively with Poulenc's life, artistic/historical milieu, colleagues, and cultural likes and dislikes. "Documented" it is, packed with fascinating footnotes (not endnotes) and including four appendixes (dramatis personae; concerts, tours, radio broadcasts; recordings; portraits and drawings of Poulenc) and exceptionally useful bibliographies of published and unpublished sources. Schmidt (Towson Univ.) loads the book with so many facts (sometimes minutiae) that it must be digested in small doses. Often facts seem to substitute for analysis (e.g., a factual sketch of Poulenc's acts during the Vichy regime, bereft of serious critical analysis, fails to satisfy). Readers will learn here what Poulenc did, but they will have to look elsewhere for what he (and his music) was like. Nevertheless, this is essential reading for anyone interested in Poulenc, Les Six, or French musical life in the 20th century. It is a sequel (complement, really) to Schmidt's invaluable The Music of Francis Poulenc, 1899-1963: A Catalaogue (CH, May'96); all serious musical libraries should own both volumes. W. Metcalfe emeritus, University of Vermont

Table of Contents

Prefacep. vii
Acknowledgementsp. xi
List of Illustrationsp. xv
Library Siglap. xvii
Abbreviationsp. xix
Map of Francep. xx
I Background and Beginnings: 1899-1912p. 1
II Crosscurrents and Encounters: 1913-1916p. 16
III Under the Influence of Satie and Apollinaire: 1917p. 34
IV Military Service: 1918-1920p. 50
V Expanding Horizons: 1921-1926p. 90
VI The Close of the Twenties: 1927-1930p. 153
VII A Wealth of Melodies and Piano Music: 1931-1935p. 182
VIII Of Faith Rediscovered and the Advent of War: 1936-1939p. 221
IX The War Years: 1940-1944p. 264
X The Post-War Years: 1945-1949p. 303
XI North American Tours Two and Three: 1950-1952p. 355
XII Obsession with Dialogue des Carmelites: 1953-1957p. 377
XIII In the Wake of Dialogues des Carmelites, Equilibrium Regained: 1958-1960p. 421
XIV The Final Years: 1961-1963p. 445
I Dramatis Personaep. 471
II Summaries of Poulenc's Concerts, Tours, and Radio Broadcastsp. 487
III Recordings by Poulenc as Piano Soloist or Accompanistp. 503
IV Portraits and Drawings of Francis Poulenc: A Preliminary Listp. 512
Bibliography of Works Cited and Poulenc's Published Writingsp. 515
A Partial List of Unpublished Theses and Dissertations on Francis Poulencp. 546
General Indexp. 555
Index of Poulenc's Worksp. 602
Index of Works by Othersp. 611