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Theses, Masters


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Sucessfully submitted for the award of Master of Philosophy to the Technological University Dublin in 1998.


This dissertation examines the melodies, or art songs, of the twentieth-century French composer Francis Poulenc in relation to the artistic milieu of his time. The study focuses on prosody and the key role of wordsetting in Poulenc’s compositional technique, with particular reference to the composer’s settings of contemporary poets. The dissertation’s central section comprises a musico-literary analysis of four representative song cycles by Poulenc, set to verses by poets with whom he experienced a particular creative affinity: Guillaume Appollinaire, Max Jacob, Louise de Vilmorin and Paul Eluard. The choice of works has not been determined according to chronological criteriae: instead the cycles variously demonstrate stylistic and thematic aspects of Poulenc’s musical style and its adaptation to the demands of each textual setting in order to create a synthesis of word and music. Each analysis contains a brief summary of the life and work of the selected poet, so as to provide a fuller understanding of Poulenc’s artistic expression. Interpretative concerns in the performance of Poulenc’s melodies, and in particular his professional partnership with the baritone Pierre Bernac, are also considered. The dissertation is divided into two main parts. The first (Chapter 1) gives a summary of the development of the melodie, artistic trends in France during the first years of the twentieth century, and biographical sketch of Poulenc’s life and composing style. The second section (Chapters 2- 5) comprises and examination of four song cycles by Poulenc, with texts by Apollinaire, Jacob, Eluard and de Vilmorin respectively- Calligrammes (1948), Parisiana (1954), Le travail de peintre (1956) and Trois poemes de Louise de Vilmorin (1937)/


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