Keith W. Daniel. Francis Poulenc: His Artistic Development and Musical Style (Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1982), 390 pp.

Meltzer, Howard

Defining a composer's style and artistic development is an imposing task. A composer's style is what makes his music his. A definition of that style would determine all the features common to individual works, separating those specific to the composer from those common to his contemporaries. An account of his artistic development would add to the definition of his style the sources and changing nature of that style. This is the central concern of Keith W. Daniel's book, the first complete survey of the music of Poulenc. Considering both the diversity of sources for Poulenc's style and the size and diversity of his output, Daniel set himself a sizable undertaking. While the resulting study does not reach any great depth in dealing with individual works or with Poulenc's style as a whole, the book is a good introduction to the composer's life and works. On the whole, Mr. Daniel is to be commended for providing an often provocative study. His method of analysis and discussion raises some questions about our assumptions in dealing with the music of a 20th-century composer who is viewed as basically conservative and traditional. Mr. Daniel has raised many issues worthy of further investigation. It is a fine first step in a better understanding of the composer and his works.



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Columbia University
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April 7, 2015