- Myriam Chimènes
- and Roger Nichols
(b Paris, Jan 7, 1899; d Paris, Jan 30, 1963). French composer and pianist. During the first half of his career the simplicity and directness of his writing led many critics away from thinking of him as a serious composer. Gradually, since World War II, it has become clear that the absence from his music of linguistic complexity in no way argues a corresponding absence of feeling or technique; and that while, in the field of French religious music, he disputes supremacy with Messiaen, in that of the mélodie he is the most distinguished composer since the death of Fauré.
Born into a wealthy bourgeois family, Poulenc was Aveyronais by descent through his father, Emile Poulenc, director of a family pharmaceutical business which eventually became the giant Rhône-Poulenc, and of Parisian stock through his mother Jenny, née Royer, from a family of artist-craftsmen. Poulenc regarded this dual heredity as the key to his musical personality: he associated his deep Catholic faith with his Aveyronais roots and attributed his artistic heritage to his mother's family. It is certainly the case that two strands, profane and religious, co-exist in his work: he was the composer of the ...