Donald Macleod focuses on Poulenc's friendship with the pianist Ricardo Viñes, who introduced the composer to many useful contacts within the artistic community.
Poulenc was both sociable and well connected. His many friends included one of the most influential pianists of the day, Ricardo Viñes.
Poulenc could claim many of the leading performers, artists and patrons of the day among his circle of friends. This week Donald Macleod looks at some of the more significant of those friendships and explores how these associations led to artistic collaborations. Donald focuses first on Poulenc's relationship with pianist Ricardo Viñes, followed by harpsichordist Wanda Landowska, poet Paul Éluard and singers baritone Pierre Bernac and soprano Denise Duval.
Poulenc always thought of himself as a product of the prevailing artistic climate of Paris. Born in 1899, he grew up in cultured and comfortable surroundings. His father and two uncles ran a company manufacturing high quality industrial chemicals, while his mother was an accomplished amateur musician who gave the young Poulenc his first piano lessons. The Poulenc's were keen supporters of the arts, frequently attending concerts and the Opera. However, Poulenc did not follow the orthodox route of musical training by attending either the Paris Conservatoire or the Schola Cantorum. This meant that his artistic associations were formed initially through social connections. Viñes was a crucial figure in Poulenc's development as an artist, providing him with vital entrées to Paris's musical circles. This brought Poulenc into contact with artists, writers and most importantly other musicians and composers, a pattern that would continue right across Poulenc's life until his unexpected death in 1963.
Today Donald Macleod considers Poulenc's artistic collaboration with the pianist Ricardo Viñes. When they met Viñes was already a leading figure in Paris, with a reputation for supporting young artists and premiering their work at his concerts. Poulenc took piano lessons from him for three years but beyond that Viñes introduced Poulenc to many useful contacts within the artistic community and premiered his piano works. Poulenc would later acknowledge that meeting Viñes "was a turning point in my life: I owe him everything.".
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