Donald Macleod discusses how Poulenc's collaboration with the harpsichordist Wanda Landowska led to several important large-scale commissions.
Poulenc's collaboration with the harpsichordist Wanda Landowska leads to several important large-scale commissions.
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, starting with one of the earliest, 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.
Poulenc's first encounter with the harpsichordist Wanda Landowska was at the house of the Princesse de Polignac, one of the most influential patronesses of the day. There and then, Landowska charged the young Poulenc with writing her a concerto. It was the start of a series of concertos, and a life-time friendship between them. Meeting her, Poulenc said was, "a capital event in my career".