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Poulenc’s Development as a Piano Composer

Poulenc’s Development as a Piano Composer

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Published by: bobPL on Dec 02, 2010
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05/12/2014

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UNIVERSITY OF CINCINNATI
Date:
___________________
I, _________________________________________________________,hereby submit this work as part of the requirements for the degree of:in:It is entitled
:
This work and its defense approved by:Chair:
_______________________________ _______________________________ _______________________________ _______________________________ _______________________________
 
5/16/2005
Kirk A. Severtson
Doctor of Musical ArtsPiano Performance
Poulenc's Development as a Piano Composer:A Comparison of the Solo Piano Works and the MélodiesKenneth Griffiths
Michael ChertockFrank Weinstock
 
 
Poulenc’s Development as a Piano Composer:A Comparison of the Solo Piano Works and the
 Mélodies
 
A thesis submitted to theDivision of Research and Advanced Studiesof the University of Cincinnatiin partial fulfillment of therequirements for the degree of DOCTOR OF MUSICAL ARTSin the Division of Keyboard Studiesof the College-Conservatory of Music2005byKirk A. SevertsonB.A., Luther College, 1997M.M., University of Cincinnati, 1999Committee Chair: Kenneth Griffiths
 
 ii
ABSTRACT
Recognized as one of the greatest twentieth-century French composers, Francis Poulenc(1899-1963) wrote both songs and piano works throughout his career. His body of 
mélodies
, inparticular,
 
is widely regarded as the culmination of the genre, while his piano works, on the whole,are of a less consistent quality. His early works in both genres, such as the
Trois mouvements perpétuels
and
 Le Bestiaire
, reflect the outwardly fresh and simple aesthetic associated with Satieand the rest of the
Groupe des Six
. Beginning in 1925, the style of writing between the songs andsolo piano works began to diverge, a result of Poulenc’s differing methods of composition.Compared to the
mélodies
, which began with a careful study of the poetry, many of the piano pieceswere improvised at the keyboard and suffer from an over-reliance on pianistic effects.Three watershed events occurring around 1935 were responsible for bringing his
mélodie
style to full maturity: a new recital partnership with baritone Pierre Bernac, a religious awakening,and the discovery of a musical language for the surrealist poetry of Paul Éluard. These eventsgreatly affected the accompaniments of the songs, such as the masterful cycle
Tel jour, telle nuit 
,but Poulenc expressed frustration that he seemed unable to translate this new style into his pianoworks. His final stylistic period is signaled by a unity of piano writing across the genres, in whichall of his stylistic elements are synthesized into a fully mature whole. This thesis traces thedevelopment of Poulenc’s piano style throughout his compositional career by comparing the
mélodies
and solo piano works.

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