Ruth Leon recommends …Poulenc talks

Ruth Leon recommends …Poulenc talks

Ruth Leon recommends

norman lebrecht

May 29, 2021

Poulenc Songs – Graham Johnson
Click here to watch

You have to know quite a lot about music and have a love for the composer, Francis Poulenc, to appreciate this musically illustrated talk by Graham Johnson from Wigmore Hall but, if you do, it’s endlessly absorbing. Distinguished pianist/accompanist Johnson is an enthusiast as well as an expert, probably the expert, having written the book about him as well as a number of books on Lieder, including a 3-volume work on the vocal music of Schubert.

In this talk he focuses on Poulenc’s songs which he discovered, along with his fellow student, Dame Felicity Lott, when they were both studying at the Royal Academy of Music in the late 60s.
Just after the First World War Poulenc became part of an informal collection of contemporary composers which also included Satie, Milhaud and Tailleferre, known as Le Six, not because of any particular stylistic kinship but because they were all friends and emerging at the same time.

Quietly spoken, Graham Johnson makes Poulenc’s life and music lively and worthy of our attention. The talk sent me back to listen to recordings of those songs as if for the first time.

Read more here



  • John Borstlap says:

    Poulenc’s status, debunked in the sixties by the new music establishment, condemned by Boulez, has only increased, and his best works have become part of the canonic repertoire. His odd but masterly opera ‘Les dialogues des Carmélites’ is regularly performed to great acclaim, in spite of the decapitated nuns. Why? Becasue the audience is conservative? No, because it is such very good music, vibrating with life, in spite of the occasional banalities.

  • Rob Keeley says:

    Norman – could you please check the above link? It only takes me to my Googlemail….

  • Morgan says:

    The links to ‘watch here’ do not work.

  • Jack says:

    I visit his grave in Pere Lachaise every time we’re in Paris.

  • Gary Freer says:

    and one of the best composers of choral music of the twentieth century.