Francis Poulenc was a French composer and pianist, who is noted for his simplicity, wit and directness in his compositions. In his later years, he wrote some champion French religious music and is regarded as the greatest composer of mélodies since the death of Fauré.
Poulenc was from a wealthy bourgeois family. Tragically his Pyrenean businessman father and his artistic Parisian mother, both died when young Poulenc was in his teens. A duality exists in his music, which he attributed to the two main strands in his family - Catholicism from his father’s side and the artistic flair from the many artists and craftspeople on his mother’s side. As Claude Rostande put it ‘In Poulenc, there is something of the monk and something of the rascal’.
Poulenc had been playing the piano from the age of five, learning first from his mother, and then from various other tutors such as Ricardo Viñes, a friend of Ravel’s, whom he regarded as both his teacher and spiritual leader and thanks to Viñes, he met other musicians such as Eric Satie and Manuel de Falla as well as writers and poets such as Apollinaire, Aragon and Gide.