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Francis Poulenc (20th Century Composers) Paperback – September 25, 1996
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The first thing that struck me was his choice of subjects. Simply put, Poulenc was homosexual. While this may be a fact of his life, Ivry goes well out of his way to let the reader know this in an unnecessary frequency. I'm not sure why Ivry was so adamant in referencing this fact at about every third page. It's unfortunate that this book may give one the impression that Poulenc was infatuated -- obsessed even -- with sex.
It has been mentioned in the other reviews that there is a great deal of gossip in this book, a point I agree with. It even gets downright catty at times. I remember an image on page 78 of the highly influential arts patron Marie-Laure de Noailles, with the caption that reads "Marie-Laure de Noailles is here charitably photographed by Man Ray in his best fashion-magazine style, her equine nose de-emphasized in a full-face portrait."
Me-YOW. (I must add here that Marie-Laure was, in fact, a lovely woman.)
Above aside, there are some nice, albeit concise, analyses of various works that gives one a good idea of its background and intention when writing them. We are also given some insight to his mental anguish and fear of not being taken seriously as a composer, his time in the military, and his subsequent care-free playful spirit with his many friends. I read this book as a fan of Poulenc's work. But as a reference point on this composer I recommend looking elsewhere. A wonderful choice would be the now out-of-print collection of interviews with Stéphane Audel entitled "My Friends and Myself" (ISBN 0234772514).
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a terrific little book about an enigmatic French composer of the 20th century. Never having been a fan of his music, I wanted to learn more about him and find out what... Read morePublished on July 11, 2010 by Amazon Customer
Loved the zest with which this was written! A life lived without apologies, maybe a bit lightweight, but wit and charm are intrinsic to his music & his character.Published on November 12, 2009 by Roger Petrich