Jean Françaix
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1912-05-23
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Jean Françaix

Jean Françaix Biography (BBC)

Jean Françaix, one of the most classically French composers of the 20th century and a disarming musical wit, was born in 1912 to the head of the Le Mans Conservatoire and one of its singing teachers.

By the age of 6 he was composing. When he was 10, his father sent a score of his to Ravel, who replied: "Among this child's gifts I notice above all the most fertile that an artist can possess: curiosity." He shortly after went to study with Nadia Boulanger, who recalled telling his mother after two months of lessons that he must have been born knowing harmony. Françaix's recollection was more sharply put: 'She couldn't teach me harmony or counterpoint, still less fugue. To keep up her prestige she would say that I had it all by instinct." Not that this difference of opinion prevented Boulanger from conducting his first opera, Le diable boiteux, in 1938.

Françaix had emerged from the Paris Conservatoire with first prize in piano and for much of his life travelled as a concert pianist. That he was able to perform primarily his own works was down to a sensational early success in 1932, when he premiered his Concertino in Baden-Baden. This work set the tone not only of his career but of his musical language, traditionally rooted and clear in form, eloquent in melody and light in touch, with an astute ear for harmonic movement, an alert feeling for instrumental character, and a dry sense of humour. These were not the qualities naturally associated with a composer whose next success was to be The Apocalypse according to St John. This oratorio nowadays comes across as a fascinating mix of the portentous and the subversive - a cathedral whose gargoyles are its high point. Under the shadow of the Second World War, it had the force of a premonition. For its premiere in the occupied Paris of 1942, it somehow got past the censors despite setting the lines about saving 'a hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel'.

It was not, however, to signal a direction he often took. There were stage works and film scores which returned to moments of grandeur. More usually, and right through to the end of his life, he kept true to the spirit of the Concertino in a prolific outpouring of instrumental, chamber and orchestral works. Although his music was anathema to the post-war composing establishment, he received many public honours, including the Prix Arthur Honegger, Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur, and Officier de l'Ordre National du Mérite. He died in 1997.


Jean Françaix Performances & Interviews


Jean Françaix Tracks

Jean Françaix
Nocturne
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Nocturne

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Jean Françaix
L'heure de Berger
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L'heure de Berger
Jean Françaix
Divertissement for bassoon and string quartet
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Divertissement for bassoon and string quartet
Jean Françaix
Quintet No. 1: Tempo di marcia francese
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Quintet No. 1: Tempo di marcia francese
Jean Françaix
Excerpts from 9 Pieces Caracteristiques
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Excerpts from 9 Pieces Caracteristiques

Excerpts from 9 Pieces Caracteristiques

Ensemble
Wind Dectet from the Ensemble of the Central Band of the Royal Air Force
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Jean Françaix
Wind Quintet no 1 [1948]
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Wind Quintet no 1 [1948]
Jean Françaix
Serenade for small orchestra
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Serenade for small orchestra

Serenade for small orchestra

Ensemble
Canadian Chamber Ensemble
Jean Françaix
Octet for clarinet, bassoon, horn, string quartet and double bass (4th mvt)
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Octet for clarinet, bassoon, horn, string quartet and double bass (4th mvt)
Jean Françaix
11 Variations on a theme by Haydn for 9 wind instruments and double bass (1982)
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11 Variations on a theme by Haydn for 9 wind instruments and double bass (1982)
Jean Françaix
Quartet for flute, oboe, clarinet and bassoon
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Quartet for flute, oboe, clarinet and bassoon
Jean Françaix
Musique pour faire plaisir
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Musique pour faire plaisir

Musique pour faire plaisir

Ensemble
Bläser Ensemble Mainz
Last played on
Jean Françaix
Clarinet Concerto (2nd mvt)
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Clarinet Concerto (2nd mvt)
Jean Françaix
L'heure du berger
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L'heure du berger
Jean Françaix
Le Gai Paris for wind ensemble
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Le Gai Paris for wind ensemble

Le Gai Paris for wind ensemble

Orchestra
Wind Ensemble of Hungarian Radio Orchestra
Jean Françaix
Sonatine for trumpet and piano
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Sonatine for trumpet and piano
Jean Françaix
Impromptu for flute and strings (1983)
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Impromptu for flute and strings (1983)
Jean Françaix
Concerto (Divertissement) for bassoon and 11 String Instruments (1968)
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Concerto (Divertissement) for bassoon and 11 String Instruments (1968)
Jean Françaix
Tema con Variazioni
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Tema con Variazioni
Jean Françaix
Cinq danses exotiques I. Pambiche II. Baiao V. Merengue
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Cinq danses exotiques I. Pambiche II. Baiao V. Merengue

Cinq danses exotiques I. Pambiche II. Baiao V. Merengue

Performer
Jan Tominić (Saxophone)
željka Vojvoda (Piano)
Jean Françaix
L'Horloge de flore (Mvts 2, 3, 4)
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L'Horloge de flore (Mvts 2, 3, 4)
Jean Françaix
Wind Quartet
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Wind Quartet
Jean Françaix
Wind Quintet No 1 (2nd mvt)
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Wind Quintet No 1 (2nd mvt)
Jean Françaix
Wind Quartet
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Wind Quartet

Wind Quartet

Ensemble
Aulos Wind Quartet
Last played on
Jean Françaix
Theme and variations
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Theme and variations
Jean Françaix
Horloge de Flore: 3h - Galant de jour
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Horloge de Flore: 3h - Galant de jour
Jean Françaix
L'Heure du berger
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L'Heure du berger
Jean Françaix
Octet (Scherzo)
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Octet (Scherzo)

Octet (Scherzo)

Ensemble
Charis-Ensemble
Last played on
Jean Françaix
L'heure du berger
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L'heure du berger
Jean Françaix
L'Horloge de flore (The Flower Clock)
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L'Horloge de flore (The Flower Clock)
Jean Françaix
Sonatine
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Sonatine
Jean Françaix
L'Horloge de Flore
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L'Horloge de Flore
Jean Françaix
Piano Trio
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Piano Trio
Jean Françaix
Si Versailles m'etait conte - suite
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Si Versailles m'etait conte - suite
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