Poulenc: A Biography by Roger Nichols – An extract

Time to ReadEscape Into Art, Look Through the Lens of History, Seek Certainty in Science …

To help us all keep on reading over the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing sample chapters, extracts, author interviews and articles here on the Yale Books Blog. Missed our latest post? You can find everything under Time to Read.

Francis Poulenc is a key figure in twentieth-century classical music, as well as an unorthodox and striking individual. Although associated with five other French composers in what came to be called “Les Six”, Poulenc was very much sui generis in personality and in his music where he excelled over a wide repertoire – opera, songs, ballet scores, chamber works, piano pieces, sacred and secular choral works, orchestral works and concertos.

“A sweeter, more human, more intelligent person does not exist”, said soprano Virginia Zeani of Poulenc during the build-up and rehearsals for his opera, Dialogues des Carmélites. The opening night on 26 January 1957 at La Scala in Milan and was an amazing success.

Today’s extract is Chapter 9: ‘Joy, Suffering and Farewell: 1957-1963’. In this final chapter of Poulenc: A Biography, Roger Nichols draws upon Poulenc’s music and other primary sources to examine the last works and years of this prolific composer, his successes and disappointments.


Poulenc by Roger NicholsPoulenc: A Biography

By Roger Nichols

‘It is with great expectation that we should welcome the release of this book about the quintessential French musician Francis Poulenc; all the more so for being written by Nichols who is such an authority on the subject.’
— Yan Pascal Tortelier, conductor and violinist

‘Packed with entertaining detail and engagingly written, Nichols’ biography is essential reading for anyone interested in French music of the 20th century.’
— Caroline Potter, author of Erik Satie 


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