Francis Poulenc

One hundred years ago, 18-year-old Francis Poulenc was looking for a composition teacher, and being recommended by the pianist Ricardo Viñes to Maurice Ravel, went to meet him, scores in hand. Ravel was already well-known, having composed much of the music for which he is famous today.

The three works on WRTI’s Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert re-broadcast this Sunday, October 4th, all hail from France. To varying degrees, each echoes the marvelous 17th-century fables of Jean de La Fontaine, familiar to this day to every French schoolchild. It’s unfortunate that these compositions are usually confined to children’s programs, as there is much music in them that has universal appeal.

In 1929, an unusual work by a versatile 20th-century French composer premiered at the home of his wealthy patrons. As WRTI’s Susan Lewis reports, this piece, still unique in the classical repertoire, is part piano concerto and part ballet, in a chamber music setting.