Chairman of the jury
Léon Jongen
Belgium, °1884 - 1969
Upon completion of his studies at the Conservatory of Liège, Léon Jongen became organist at the Saint Jacques church in his native city. In 1913, he won the First Grand Prize of Rome with his cantata Les fiancés de Noël. He started a career as pianist. In 1918 after World War I he travelled extensively to Africa, India, China and Japan and for 2 years was director and conductor of the Opéra Français of Hanoï.

Back in Belgium in 1934 he taught fugue at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels, afterwards he succeeded his brother Joseph as director of this institution. From 1939 to 1949 he conducted the concerts of the conservatory. His Violin Concerto was the compulsory work of the Queen Elisabeth Competition in 1963.

He wrote numerous symphonic works and he was attracted by the theatre. His opera Thomas l’Agnelet is one of the best lyrical works ever written in Belgium. Although a great admiror of the French romantic school and slightly influenced by César Franck he nevertheless developed towards more modernistic conceptions.
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Renata Borgatti
Italy, °1894 - 1964
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Harriet Cohen
Great Britain, °1895 - 1967
English pianist Harriet Cohen studied at the Royal Academy of Music (1912-17) and at the Matthay School, where she also taught. Small hands limited her repertory, but she quickly made a reputation as a Bach player and as a persuasive advocate for the English music of her time. She played at the Salzburg Contemporary Music Festival in 1924, at the Coolidge Festival, Chicago, in 1930 and gave the first performance of Vaughan Williams's Concerto, dedicated to her, in 1933. She injured her right hand in 1948 and played one-handed until 1951, but her injury was never completely cured and in 1960 she reluctantly retired. She was made a Commander of the British Empire in 1938, a Freeman of the City of London in 1954, and received many honours from other countries. The Harriet Cohen International Music Prizes were founded by Sir Arnold Bax among others in 1951.

Harriet Cohen was chosen by Edward Elgar to record his Piano Quintet, and she made many first recordings of music by Arnold Bax, most of whose piano works, including a left-hand Concertante, were composed for her. In 1932 twelve leading British composers published transcriptions in A Bach Book for Harriet Cohen. She herself published some Bach transcriptions and a small book on interpretation, Music's Handmaid (1936, 2/1950), while her memoirs, A Bundle of Time (1969), are valuable for letters from friends eminent in all walks of live.
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Eduardo del Pueyo
, °1905 - 1986
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Alex De Vries
, °1919 - 1964
Alex De Vries was born in Amsterdam in 1919, but moved to Antwerp already at an early age. He made his debut as a pianist at age eleven. He studied at the Royal Conservatory of Antwerp from 1928 to 1940, where he earned degrees for piano (1935), harmony (Edward Verheyden, 1936), counterpoint and fugue (Karel Candael, 1939 and 1940) as well as the higher diploma for piano (Marinus de Jong, 1937). In addition to that formal education he was also taught privately by Arthur de Greef and Emile Bosquet in Brussels. Later he married Denise Tolkowsky, also a pianist and composer.

Throughout the years he earned several distinctions: the Alexander Brailowsky Prize (Liège, 1938), the Virtuosity Prize of the Belgian government (Brussels, 1939), the Lomas Prize (Brussels, 1939) and the Prize Albert de Vleeshouwer with the cantata Het Kamp (The Camp, 1939) for tenor and chamber orchestra.

After completing his training he was a teacher of piano at the Royal Conservatory of Ghent from 1946 to 1958, and subsequently from 1958 to his death at the Royal Conservatory of Antwerp. There he founded the Prize De Vries-Tolkowsky together with his wife. This prize was awarded to the student of the Royal Conservatory of Antwerp who earned the highest grade for the Higher Diploma Piano. In 1956 and 1960 he sat on the jury of the Queen Elisabeth Piano Competition. He was also very active as a concert pianist with tours in Europe and Africa as well as performing with important orchestras under the baton of A. Cluytens, C. Zecchi, E. Ansermet, P. Colombo, and many others.

During the war he had to get out of Antwerp and hide in Ghent. This period had, as with Denise, an impact on his compositions. The title of the cantata Het Kamp (1939), which is also conspicuous in the oeuvre of Denise Tolkowsky in an alternative version for mezzo, refers to that dark period in the life of the couple. Also the Suite op “Het beleg van Bergen-op-Zoom” (Suite on “The Siege of Bergen-op-Zoom”) for strings, shows affinities with the same theme.

In addition to the cantata Het Kamp he composed works for strings, such as an Andante for strings on a theme by Arcadelt. The rest of his oeuvre consists of works for piano, such as his adaptation of the piano concerto by Aram Khachaturian, performed by him under the baton of the composer, and songs on texts by Paul van Ostaijen, Willem Kloos, Frederik van Eeden and Karel van de Woestijne.

The repertoire of Alex De Vries contained a lot of impressionist music and contemporary compositions. He was exceedingly exacting for himself as an artist and often felt tormented by ideas of inadequacy when interpreting the great masterpieces. Even so, these selfsame demands resulted in outstanding performances, earning him much acclaim at home and abroad. He particularly cherished the modern Russian school, witness his special commitment to Khatchaturian’s piano concerto.

Besides being a prominent composer he was also recognized as a humanist and an author. He wrote several studies of composers and musical subjects such as De sonate and Mozart, historisch en stilistisch gesitueerd (Mozart, historically and stylistically contextualized). Not only the subject of music was his domain, he also roamed freely across medicine, psychoanalysis, philosophy, politics and economics. Thus he wrote Inleiding tot de algemene en muzikale geheugenleer (Introduction to a general and musical theory of mnemotechnics, 1949, reprinted in 1973) and many essays such as De muziek in het oeuvre van M. Proust en A. Huxley (Music in the oeuvre of M. Proust and A. Huxley) and Joodse moraal en politiek (Jewish ethics and politics).

In 1964 he said farewell to life. His wife, Denise Tolkowsky, founded in 1965 the Fund Alex de Vries with the mission to offer opportunities to young musicians, supporting and advising them.
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Zbigniew Drzewiecki
Poland, °1890 - 1971
Zbigniew Drzewiecki studied at the Wiener Akademie für Musik with K. Prohaski and privately in Vienna with M. Prentner. He made his debut as a pianist in 1916 in Warsaw, giving a recital consisting of the works of Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Schumann, Chopin and Liszt. He was one of the first Polish pianists to perform the works of Scriabin, Debussy, Ravel and Prokofiev; in the eyes of conservative critics he gained a reputation of an enthusiast and propagator of ‘modernism’ and ‘dadaism.’

The music of Szymanowski found a special place in his repertoire. The composer and the pianist were friends, they also shared a passion for bridge. Szymanowski dedicated to him two Mazurkas Op. 50: No.7 and 8. Zbigniew Drzewiecki also propagated the works of other Polish contemporary composers: Szałowski, Palester, Kondracki, Szabelski. He mastered his musical technique with Paderewski in Morges.

As music critic, he published articles in Muzyka of M. Gliński and Muzyka Polska of K. Regamey, after the World War II - in Ruch Muzyczny. He wrote particularly about the piano music of the 20th century, including the works of Bartok, Berg, Szymanowski, Koffler or Palester, and about the performances of Chopin’s music. He recommended simplicity and moderation as well as equilibrium between the expression and form in the interpretation of Chopin’s music. In 1930 he became Prorector of the Warsaw Music School renamed later into the Academy. In 1931 he took over the function of its rector after Karol Szymanowski. Among his students were: F. Blumental, J. Ekier, R. Etkinówna, B. Kon, H. Czerny Stefańska, Fu-Tsung, L. Grychtołówna, A. Harasiewicz, R. Smendzianka, J. Olejniczak, among the present faculty members of the Krakow Academy: M. Szmyd-Dormus and E. Wolak-Moszyńska.

In the spring of 1945, with a circle of collaborators, Zbigniew Drzewiecki began to organize the Higher School of Music (the present Academy of Music). Among the faculty members of the Krakow school were: R. Palester, S. Wiechowicz, A. Malawski, J. Hoffman, A. Rieger, H. Sztompka, E. Umińska, B. Rutkowski, B. Romaniszyn, H. Zboińska-Ruszkowska, W. Kaczmar, M. Dziewulska, S. Kisielewski.

In recognition of his accomplishments, he received National Prizes of the 1st degree (1950, 1952), and in 1955 he was honoured with the Polonia Restituta Cross.
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Rudolf Firkusny
United States of America, °1912 - 1994
Rudolf Firkusny studied both piano and composition with Janacek; from 1920 to 1927, at the Brno Conservatory with Ruzena Kurzova; and at the Prague Conservatory with Vilem Kurz and Rudolf Karel. From 1929-1930, he also studied composition with Suk. He made his debut in Prague in 1922 and pursued an active career in Eastern Europe until 1933, when he first played in England, and 1938, when he made his United States debut. His compositions include a piano concerto, premiered in 1930, a string quartet, and various piano pieces and songs.

After his American debut, Rudolf Firkusny established an international career as a pianist, later teaching at the Juilliard School and the Aspen School of Music. Although best known for the standard nineteenth century repertory, he was also known for his chamber performances and his championing of both contemporary and lesser known works. He gave premieres of works by Menotti, Barber, Ginastera, Hanson, and Martinu, among others, and championed the works of Dvorak and Janacek in particular.
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Jacob Flier
Russian Federation, °1912 - 1977
Pianist Jacob Flier was one of the leading Soviet pianists of his day and he might have had far greater success internationally had Cold War politics not encumbered his career. Emil Gilels, then Sviatoslav Richter, and finally Lazar Berman were granted permission by Soviet cultural czars to concertize abroad, and so too was Jacob Flier. But, unlike the other three, he did not live long after he first appeared in the West. He also limited his performing career by devoting much of his energies to teaching, and by abandoning solo concerts for a whole decade (1949-1959). Still, in the 1960s and '70s he managed to develop a conspicuous following in Western Europe and the United States, not to mention the Soviet Union. His repertory was rich in Romantics, favoring Schumann, Chopin, Brahms, Liszt, and Rachmaninov, though it did include contemporaries like Kabalevsky. His recordings were made for the Soviet label Melodiya, but several of them have been reissued on Brilliant Classics, Globe, and Russian Compact Disc.

Jacob Flier studied piano at the Moscow Conservatory under pedagogue Konstantin Igumnov. He graduated in 1934 as one of the USSR's most promising keyboard prospects. He lived up to that hope: in 1936 he won first prize at the Vienna International Piano Competition, ahead of Emil Gilels.

The following year he joined the faculty at the Moscow Conservatory and would eventually become a professor (1945) and chair of the piano department (1965). Over the years his students included composer Rodion Shchedrin, Viktoria Postnikova, and Mikhail Pletnev. In 1938 he finished third in the Eugene Ysaÿe Competition, that year won by Emil Gilels. After fading somewhat during the postwar years because of his exclusive focus on chamber concerts, he began building an international reputation in the 1960s.
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Emil Gilels
Russian Federation, °1916 - 1985
Emil Gilels was born in Odessa. He did not come from a musical family: his father worked as a clerk in the sugar refinery and his mother looked after the large family. At the age of five and a half he was taken to Yakov Tkach, a famous piano pedagogue in Odessa. He completed his first period of studies with unprecedented ease. In 1929 aged twelve, he gave his first public concert. In 1930 he was accepted to the conservatory in Odessa into the class of Berta Reingbald. Her main goal was his participation in the First All-Union Competition of Performers which was announced to take place in 1933 in Moscow. Gilels’ playing created a sensation - when he finished his programme the auditorium rose up in tumultuous ovation and even the jury stood to applaud. The question of first prize was not even discussed: in a unanimous decision Gilels was announced the winner. The competition changed Emil’s life - he was suddenly famous throughout the land. Following the competition, Gilels embarked on an extensive concert tour around the USSR.

Gilels graduated from the Odessa Conservatory in the autumn of 1935. Subsequently, he was accepted into the class of Heinrich Neuhaus as a postgraduate student at the Moscow Conservatory, and Gilels renewed his commitment to giving concerts. The phenomenon, ‘Gilels’, found its recognition from the outside. Upon arriving to Moscow at the start of 1936, the conductor Otto Klemperer performed Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor Opus 37 with none other than Gilels as the soloist. In 1936 he participated in his first international competition - the International Vienna Music Academy Competition. Despite attracting the attention of Europe and the unquestionable prestige of being a finalist, he looked upon the second place awarded to him as a failure. First place was awarded to his friend Jacob Flier - an intensely Romantic pianist.

In 1938 Gilels and Flier set off to the Queen Elisabeth Competition. They were expected to uphold the victories of the Soviet violinists, lead by David Oistrakh a year earlier, and to return in triumph. Gilels was awarded the first prize and Flier took the third. The whole musical world began to talk about Emil Gilels. Following the competition he was meant to embark on a lengthy concert tour, including a tour of the USA. These plans were abruptly interrupted by the Second World War. On home soil Gilels became a hero: he received a medal for his achievements, was greeted by a welcome party upon his return and in the Soviet consciousness his name sounded in equal rank with the names of famous explorers, pilots and film stars.

Emil Gilels completed his postgraduate studies in 1938 and began teaching at the Moscow Conservatory (from 1952 becoming a professor). His pedagogical work continued sporadically until 1976, but because of the huge demands of his concerts he could not devote much time to teaching. Nevertheless his class numbered important pianists such as Marina Mdivani, Valery Afanassiev, Igor Zhukov and the pianist-composer Vladimir Blok.

When the war broke out he was not evacuated with the conservatory. Instead he joined the civilian resistance and following an order for his return, he began to perform on the Front and in hospitals. At the start of 1943 he performed Stravinsky’s bravura piece Petrushka to the weary inhabitants of besieged Leningrad.

When the war ended Emil Gilels was to undertake a special mission. He was to represent the Art of a victorious country. He took to the stage amongst the ruins of Eastern Europe, and soon after the war he went on concert tours of Italy, the United Kingdom, France, Austria, Scandinavia and numerous other countries. Every European country considered it a great privilege to invite Gilels to perform or record. He was decorated with medals and honours - the public worshiped him.

In 1955 Emil Gilels became the first Soviet Artist, since the Second World War, to travel on a concert tour of the USA. The years between the 1950s and 1970s saw him at the height of his powers in all aspects of his playing. He performed under the baton of many of the finest conductors: Mravinsky, Melik-Pashayev, Svetlanov, Ivanov, Rakhlin, Gauk, Ginsburg, Eliasberg, Niyazi, Jarvi, Kitayenko, Dudarova, Barshai. Gilels’ collaboration with Sanderling and Kondrashin were particularly important and longstanding. Within the USSR he had further collaborations with Gusman, Paverman, Maluntsyan, Gokieli, Kolomiytseva, Shaposhnikov, Gurtovoy, Rabinovich, Katz, Feldman, Vigners, Sherman, Stasevich, Sokolov, Tiulin, Kravchenko, Karapetyan, Dubrovsky, Tolba, Provatorov, Katayev, Aranovich, Chunikhin, Yadikh, Nikolayevsky and many others. Through his collaborations he also was able to find new, talented conductors such as Verbintsky and Ovchinikov.

Emil Gilels also played in ensembles: with pianists Flier and Zak, and later with his daughter Elena Gilels; violinists Elisabeth Gilels (his sister), Tziganov, Kogan; with the Beethoven Quartet; in a trio with Tziganov and Shirinsky, as well as his own trio (Gilels, Kogan, Rostropovich); with flautist Korneiv; and the French horn player Shapiro. Abroad he collaborated with the Amadeus Quartet and the Sibelius Academy Quartet.

Emil Gilels’ commitment to the recording studio was as intensive as his commitment to his concert tours : he recorded with many record companies, including Melodiya, Angel, Ariola, EMI, Eterna and Deutsche Grammophon. His earliest recordings are from the 1930s and include Loeillet-Godowsky’s Gigue, the Fantasia on Two Themes from The Marriage of Figaro by Mozart-Liszt-Busoni, Chopin’s Ballade No. 1 in G minor Opus 23, Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 9, Schumann’s Toccata and Mendelssohn’s Duetto from the Songs without Words. All in all Gilels committed to record over five hundred works (not counting the multiple versions that exist for many of the cycles and individual pieces): the exact number however may never become known because of the numerous amateur audio and video recordings made from Gilels’ recitals.

Between the 1950s and 1970s Gilels continued to teach at the Moscow Conservatory whilst maintaining an active profile as an important public figure. He could not however refuse the invitation to preside over the jury at the International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition - a position that he maintained for the first four competitions.

In the middle of the 1970s Emil Gilels started to limit any activities that were not directly related to his performing. He retired as a jury member of international piano competitions and stopped teaching.

Emil Gilels had to his name the Peoples’ Artist of the USSR, was a recipient of the Lenin Prize (1962), and in 1976 in honour of his sixtieth birthday was bestowed the highest possible governmental award - Hero of Socialist Labour.
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Nikita Magaloff
Georgia, °1912 - 1992
Nikita Magaloff was one of the more interesting and charismatic keyboard figures of the twentieth century. Many of his recordings are still available and in modern sound; yet here was a man who was a friend of Rachmaninov, Prokofiev, from whom he took composition lessons, and Ravel, who was an enthusiastic admirer. He concertized with the most important conductors and orchestras of the day and at the most prestigious festivals. He also collaborated with the leading string players, like violinist Joseph Szigeti. Though he was born in Russia, he was cosmopolitan in outlook, with a broad repertory that favored Chopin: he played many all-Chopin concerts and had the distinction of being the first pianist to record all of Chopin's piano music. But his repertory also included Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Brahms, Schumann, Liszt, Debussy, Ravel, Fauré, Prokofiev, Rachmaninov, Stravinsky, Scriabin, and numerous others. Many of his recordings are available on Philips and Decca.

Nikita Magaloff was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1912. His family fled the Revolution when he was six, traveling first to Finland, then to the United States, and finally settling in Paris in 1922. His first advanced studies were at the Paris Conservatory, where his chief teacher was Isidor Philipp.

It was in the 1920s in Paris that Nikita Magaloff met Prokofiev, Ravel, and Rachmaninov, composers whose music and influence figured prominently in his career. He also befriended Szigeti there, a man he credited with introducing him to a broad range of chamber music and whose daughter he would later marry.

While from the 1920s through the 1950s Nikita Magaloff was active in the concert hall and recording studio, his career seemed to take wing after 1960. This lift might have been due to the cessation of his teaching activities: from 1949 to 1959 he regularly held master classes at the Geneva Conservatory. But then perhaps part of his late success owed something to the change in his style: he took more chances, displayed greater passion, and played, arguably, with more spirit.

Most of Nikita Magaloff's available recordings were made after 1960. He remained busy throughout the last three decades of his career, hardly slowing down even near the end: in the 1990-1991 season, he gave a six-concert series that covered nearly the complete Chopin output.
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Witold Malcuzynsky
Poland, °1914 - 1977
Witold Małcużyńsky won third prize of the 3rd Fryderyk Chopin International Piano Competition in Warsaw (1937). His musical talents became evident when he was five years old. Initially he was drawn to composition - he even wrote two short piano pieces entitled Night on the Niemen and Oberek. He began systematically studying the piano at the age of nine.

In 1929, he was accepted at the Warsaw Conservatory in Jerzy Lefeld’s piano class, under whose guidance he developed his talent until 1932. After graduating in 1932, he began higher studies at the conservatory with Józef Turczyński. He simultaneously began studying law and philosophy at the University of Warsaw.

Witold Małcużyńsky completed the Conservatory in 1936, receiving his diploma with honours. The same year, a few days before his final exam, he won the fifth award at the International Music Competition in Warsaw and debuted at the Warsaw Philharmonic, sensationally performing Liszt’s II Concerto in A major and playing Karol Szymanowski’s Variations in B minor as an encore.

After the dates of the Third Chopin Competition in Warsaw were officially announced (21 February - 12 March 1937), he decided to take part. In order to prepare his repertoire, and at the request of Turczyński, he travelled to Morges, to Paderewski. After a careful listening, Paderewski decided to take particular care of him and took him under his pedagogical wing for several months in 1936-37.
His participation in the Chopin Competition concluded with his winning the third award.

Despite his success in this competition, his popularity with the public and counter to all predictions, Witold Małcużyńsky didn’t develop his stage career. He decided to continue his studies and broaden his repertoire. With this as a goal he left for Paris and for several months, spanning 1937-38, he attended lessons with Marguerite Long and Isidore Philippe. In mid-1938, the pianist returned to Poland. Shortly thereafter he gave several concerts in Warsaw and went on a countrywide tour, playing small provincial cities as well as larger centres. Towards the end of the following year he returned to Paris in order to wed pianist Colette Gaveau.

The outbreak of World War II found him in Paris. In January 1940, Witold Małcużyńsky debuted in great style in Paris performing Chopin’s Second Concerto in F minor. He received rave reviews. After the fall of France, he left Paris and reached Lisbon in a sealed train, then sailed on to Argentina.
In November 1940, the pianist gave his first concert in Buenos Aires. Shortly thereafter he was playing dozens of concerts over the whole continent attaining unimaginable popularity.

The fame he attained in South America resulted in a proposition to perform at New York’s Carnegie Hall. In April 1942, Witold Małcużyńsky gave a recital worthy of the famous hall. After his New York triumph, he began a grand tour around the USA. He played with the greatest conductors (Koussewitzky, Monteux, Paray, Mitropoulos, Reiner and Szell among others) and orchestras, in the greatest halls and drawing thousands of listeners.

Towards the end of the war (March 1945), Witold Małcużyńsky got to England by army transport and gave a concert in London. A few months later he appeared in Paris, where the public discovered him anew. From this moment his career took-off at a breath-taking pace. Every year he performed dozens of concerts on different continents and he recorded for renowned labels (Columbia, Angel, EMI).
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Francis Poulenc
France, °1899 - 1963
1899 Naissance de Francis Poulenc, le 7 janvier. Son père Emile Poulenc, né en 1855, est un industriel d'origine aveyronnaise qui avec ses deux frères dirige une usine de produits chimiques. Sa mère Jenny Royer, est parisienne depuis plusieurs générations et est descendante d'une famille d'artisans.

1904 Jenny assoit le jeune Francis au piano et le fait travailler Mozart, Schubert et Chopin mais également l'« adorable mauvaise musique » que sont les romances à la mode.

1911-13 L'oncle Papoum, (Marcel Royer, frère de Jenny) qui fréquente l'Opéra Comique, le boulevard et les concerts d'avant-garde, fait découvrir au jeune Francis Petrouchka et Le Sacre du Printemps de Stravinsky. C'est une véritable révélation pour lui, et le compositeur demeurera toute sa vie durant un maître envers qui son admiration sera immense.

1914 Son père exigeant qu'il fasse des études générales et ne se consacre pas exclusivement à la musique, Francis Poulenc ne fréquente pas le conservatoire; rencontre avec Ricardo Viñes, professeur catalan introduit par Geneviève Sienkiewicz.

1914-17 Viñes lui enseigne la musique de son temps, celle de Debussy, Stravinsky et Satie; il l'introduit à Falla, Cocteau, Marcelle Meyer et Satie. Le jeune Poulenc fait la connaissance de Milhaud.

1915 Disparition de sa mère Jenny

1917 Disparition de son père. Installation chez sa sœur Jeanne (1887-1974) et son mari, rue de Monceau. Grâce à son amie d'enfance Raymonde Linossier (1897-1930), Poulenc découvre le milieu intellectuel et littéraire parisien : premières visites régulières à la librairie d'Adrienne Monnier (La Maison des Amis des Livres), située au 7 rue de l'Odéon, lieu où il pourra faire connaissance avec Aragon, Breton, Eluard et Apollinaire. Ce dernier, qui aura une influence durable sur Poulenc, y lit ses propres poèmes et donne la première des Mamelles de Tirésias en juin, œuvre qui sera mise en musique par Poulenc à la fin des années 40. Le 11 décembre, création de Rapsodie Nègre, sa première œuvre, pour voix (baryton) et ensemble instrumental (flûte, clarinette, quatuor à cordes et piano).

1918 Mobilisation en janvier à Vincennes, puis au ministère de la Guerre jusqu'à 1921. Fait la connaissance de Manuel de Falla chez Ricardo Viñes.

1918 Premier groupe de compositions qui avec l'aide de Stravinsky, seront dès l'année suivante au catalogue de l'éditeur londonien Chester : Toréador, sur des poèmes de Jean Cocteau, la Sonate pour deux clarinettes, la Sonate pour piano à quatre mains, les trois Mouvements perpétuels. Fréquente Cocteau, Radiguet, Max Jacob.

1919 Création du Bestiaire d'après des poèmes de Guillaume Apollinaire (avec Suzanne Peignot, amie et première interprète des mélodies du compositeur)

1920 Cocardes, crées au Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, remportent un beau succès. Ces trois mélodies sur un poème de Cocteau sont inspirées de l'atmosphère de Nogent-sur-Marne - celle des fêtes foraines, bal musettes et guinguettes - où Poulenc passait ses vacances en famille et entre amis.
Le Groupe des Six est formé (Auric, Durey, Honegger, Milhaud, Poulenc et Tailleferre).

1921 Le Gendarme Incompris, de Jean Cocteau et Raymond Radiguet, présenté en mai au Théâtre Michel. Création en juin des Mariés de la tour Eiffel, première oeuvre d'importance du groupe des Six, limité à cinq pour cette occasion (Poulenc, Auric, Milhaud, Honegger, Tailleferre). Misia Sert assiste à la représentation et introduit le jeune Poulenc à Serge Diaghilev, le grand maître des ballets russes, très en vogue en ce début des années 20.
Début du précieux enseignement pianistique de Charles Koechlin (1867-1950), qui durera quatre ans, avec qui il apprend la technique du contrepoint et l'écriture chorale.

1922 Quatre Poèmes de Max Jacob. Sonate pour clarinette et basson. Sonate pour cor, trompette et trombone. Fait la connaissance d'Henri Sauguet. Pendant quelques semaines, Poulenc accompagne Darius Milhaud et Marya Freund en Europe Centrale où il rencontre Berg, Schoenberg et Webern à Vienne.

1924 Création en janvier à Monte-Carlo du ballet Les Biches, par les Ballets russes, à la demande de Serge Diaghilev. Décors et costumes de Marie Laurencin. L'œuvre remporte un vif succès.

1926 Création en mai du Trio pour hautbois, basson et piano. Le même mois, création des Chansons Gaillardes avec Pierre Bernac. Wanda Landowska, rencontrée chez la princesse de Polignac, commande à Poulenc un concerto pour clavecin.

1927 Acquisition du Grand Coteau, sa maison secondaire à mi-chemin entre une maison de maître et une maison de vigneron, entourée de vignes et de terrasses aménagées par des « jardins à la française ». Cette demeure de Touraine située à côté du village de Noizay, entre Amboise et Vouvray, permet au compositeur de fuir les distractions parisiennes et de s'atteler à la composition dans une solitude bénéfique.

1929 Création en mai à Paris du Concert Champêtre par Wanda Landowska et l'orchestre symphonique de Paris, dirigé par Pierre Monteux. Composition des Nocturnes, au nombre de huit, pour piano seul.
Création de Aubade, pour piano et dix-huit instruments, sur une commande du vicomte Charles et de la vicomtesse Marie-Laure de Noailles.

1930 La mort de Raymonde Linossier, le 30 janvier, affectera profondément Poulenc qui ressentait envers elle une amitié profonde datant de son enfance, voire certainement un amour inavoué.

1931 Création des deux cycles de mélodies que sont les Quatre Poèmes de Guillaume Apollinaire et les Cinq Poèmes de Max Jacob.

1932 Création du Bal Masqué sur une commande du couple Noailles, d'après Max Jacob (cantate profane pour baryton et orchestre de chambre)
Concerto pour deux pianos sur une commande de la princesse Edmond de Polignac. On y retrouve des thématiques inspirées de Ravel, Mozart (son concerto K 537 assurément), et du jazz. La création eu lieu le 5 septembre à Venise, avec Francis Poulenc et Jacques Février en solistes accompagnés par l'orchestre de la Scala de Milan.

1933 Première audition du Sextuor, qui sera par la suite remodelé en 1940, et des Improvisations pour piano, données pour la première fois à la Salle Gaveau. Comme les créations rapportent peu, Poulenc commence à donner ses premières conférences et à jouer en concert afin de gagner un peu mieux sa vie.

1934 Huit Chansons polonaises, crées par la chanteuse Marya Modrakowska. Cinq poèmes de Pierre Ronsard crées par la soprano Suzanne Peignot en mars, avec piano, et décembre dans sa version pour orchestre.
Poulenc est invité le 21 août à participer à un concert de musique française à Salzbourg. Il trouve à son hôtel une invitation de Pierre Bernac le baryton des Chansons Gaillardes, pour accompagner du Debussy. Cette rencontre inattendue verra Poulenc se rapprocher de celui qui sera son chanteur masculin attitré pour la création de l'ensemble des mélodies, ce jusqu'à la fin de leur carrière commune.

1936 Composition des Soirées de Nazelles, dans l'esprit des « Folies Françaises » de Couperin pour piano, selon les mots de l'auteur. Installation rive gauche au 5 rue de Médicis en face du Luxembourg, dans l'immeuble de l'oncle Papoum.
Après avoir appris la terrible mort de son ami et compositeur Pierre-Octave Ferroud, Poulenc visite à Rocamadour le sanctuaire de la Vierge Noire. C'est un choc religieux immense à l'image d'une véritable révélation spirituelle qui influencera durablement sa musique. En sept jours, il achève la composition des Litanies à la Vierge Noire, pour chœur de femmes et orgue. Elles seront crées le 17 novembre à Londres par Nadia Boulanger, lors d'un concert de la BBC. La première audition française aura lieu à Lyon, à la salle Rameau, le 3 mai 1937, par les Chœurs de Lyon, lors d'un concert radiodiffusé en direct.

1937 Création avec Pierre Bernac le 3 février à la salle Gaveau de Telle jour telle nuit sur des poèmes de Paul Eluard. Ce cycle est certainement un des plus accomplis de Poulenc et reflète une unité de construction exceptionnelle. Création en février le 21 mai à Gaveau de Sept Chansons pour chœur a cappella. Création à Lyon de Sécheresses, œuvre contemporaine pour chœur mixte et orchestre sur des poèmes de Edward James (1908-1984), qui demeure encore à ce jour particulièrement méconnue et peu jouée.

1938 Création par les chœurs de Lyon de la Messe en sol majeur, le 3 avril à Paris, première œuvre religieuse a cappella. Création de Trois Poèmes de Louise de Vilmorin à la salle Gaveau le 28 novembre 1938. Priez pour Paix, septembre.

1939 Alors qu'une première audition privée a eu lieu en décembre 1938 chez les Polignac, le Concerto pour orgue fait l'objet d'une première audition publique le 21 juin 1939 à la salle Gaveau. Maurice Duruflé tient l'orgue et Roger Desormière dirige l'Orchestre Symphonique de Paris. Quatre Motets pour un temps de pénitence pour chœur mixte a cappella sur des textes en latin sont crées en février à l'église Saint-Etienne du Mont par les Petits Chanteurs à la Croix de Bois. Composition du Sextuor et du cycle de mélodie Fiançailles pour rire d'après des poèmes de Louise de Vilmorin.

1940 Mobilisé à Bordeaux puis démobilisé à Brive-la-Gaillarde, Poulenc commence à travailler L'Histoire de Babar, et son cycle de mélodies Banalités sur des poèmes d'Apollinaire.

1941 Deux motets pour chœurs mixtes a cappella sont écrits en mai, Salve Regina et Exultate Deo.

1942 Le cycle de mélodies Fiançailles pour rire, sur des poèmes de Louise de Vilmorin est crée par Geneviève Touraine, sœur du baryton Gérard Souzay, le 21 mai 1942 à l'Ecole Normale de musique, renommée plus tard la salle Cortot. Le 8 août, création du ballet Les Animaux Modèles à l'Opéra de Paris (chorégraphie de Serge Lifar)

1943 Sonate pour violon et piano en juin dédiée à la mémoire de Federico Garcia Lorca, que le compositeur considèrera « comme ratée ». Le même mois, Poulenc crée Les Chansons Villageoises dans une version pour voix et orchestre à laquelle on substitue presque systématiquement de nos jours celle pour piano. Métamorphoses d'après des poèmes de Louise de Vilmorin et C d'après Louis Aragon. Décès de Ricardo Viñes au printemps.

1944 Max Jacob, qui était juif, est arrêté par la Gestapo à Orléans en février avant d'être déporté au camp de Drancy, où il meurt d'épuisement deux semaines plus tard en dépit de diverses interventions pour le faire libérer, dont celles de Jean Cocteau et Sacha Guitry. Composition à Noël d'Un soir de neige, œuvre polyphonique a cappella sur des poèmes de Paul Eluard. L'œuvre sera crée le 21 avril 1945 à Paris.

1945 Figure Humaine, pour double cœur a cappella sur des poèmes de Paul Eluard, crée en anglais par les BBC Singers de Londres, le 25 mars, puis en français pour la première fois le 2 décembre 1946 à Bruxelles par les Chœurs de la radiodiffusion flamande. Œuvre d'une grande modernité et maîtrise polyphonique, elle marque un tournant dans le travail du compositeur.
L'année 1945 est également l'occasion pour Poulenc de jouer en janvier à Londres son Concerto pour deux pianos avec Benjamin Britten. Le premier récital Poulenc-Bernac est donné la même année au Wigmore Hall.

1946 Création le 14 juin de l'Histoire de Babar, d'après le texte de Jean de Brunhoff, avec Pierre Bernac comme récitant.

1947 Déménagement dans un appartement plus grand du 5 rue de Médicis (au 6e étage), où le compositeur résidera jusqu'à sa mort, en janvier 1963.
Les Mamelles de Tirésias d'après un « drame surréaliste » de Guillaume Apollinaire

1948 Création le 24 octobre de la Sinfonietta par le BBC Philarmonic Orchestra dirigé par Roger Desormière. Calligrammes d'après Apollinaire. Le 7 novembre, le duo Bernac-Poulenc fait ses débuts américains au Town Hall de New York, puis réalise une tournée américaine (Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco) et canadienne. Quatre Petites Prières de saint François d'Assise.

1949 Création le 18 mai à la salle Gaveau de la Sonate pour violoncelle et piano. Composition du Concerto pour piano.

1950 Création le 6 janvier du Concerto pour piano avec l'Orchestre symphonique de Boston dirigé par Charles Munch. En novembre, Poulenc et Bernac créent la Fraîcheur et le Feu, sur des poèmes de Paul Eluard.

1951 Création le 13 juin au Festival de Strasbourg du Stabat Mater (pour soprano, chœur mixte et orchestre) sous la direction de Fritz Munch et la soprano Geneviève Moizan, dédié à la mémoire du peintre et ami Christian Bérard.

1952 Quatre Motets pour le temps de Noël, pour chœur mixte a cappella. Mort de Paul Eluard le 18 novembre, à l'âge de 57 ans.

1953 Poulenc démarre la composition des Dialogues des Carmélites, dont il a accepté la commande des éditions milanaises Ricordi après avoir pris connaissance du texte de Georges Bernanos. Il compose notamment à l'hôtel Beau-Rivage de Lausanne, puis à partir de janvier 1954 au Majestic, à Cannes. Sonate pour deux pianos, crée le 2 novembre.

1954 Tournée en Egypte avec Bernac. Les récitals se poursuivent en Europe (Londres, Amsterdam, Allemagne).

1955 Décès d'Adrienne Monnier, de Lucien Roubert et d'Arthur Honegger. Dans ce climat de profonde tristesse, Poulenc termine la composition des Dialogues des Carmélites dans sa version préliminaire pour piano.

1956 Composition du Travail du Peintre, cycle de mélodies sur des poèmes d'Eluard dont il retient une mélodie pour Picasso, Chagall, Braque, Juan Gris, Klee, Miro et Jacques Villon. Termine l'orchestration des Dialogues.

1957 Le 26 janvier a lieu la première audition, en italien, des Dialogues des Carmélites à la Scala de Milan. Le 18 juin, création de la Sonate pour flûte, au Festival de Strasbourg avec Jean-Pierre Rampal accompagné par Poulenc lui-même. Trois jours plus tard a lieu à l'Opéra Garnier la création parisienne des Dialogues, qui seront repris le 8 novembre de la même année. C'est un immense succès et un grand soulagement pour Poulenc qui s'était investi comme jamais en temps et en énergie dans la composition d'une œuvre musicale. Composition de l'Elégie pour cor et piano.

1958 Composition de la Voix Humaine, tragédie-lyrique sur un texte de Cocteau de 1930.

1959 Création le 6 février à l'Opéra Comique de la Voix Humaine. Denise Duval est la bouleversante interprète principale et Cocteau lui-même signe la mise en scène.
Le 27 mai a lieu à la salle Gaveau le soixantième anniversaire de Poulenc et dernier concert du merveilleux duo Bernac-Poulenc, Bernac faisant alors ses adieux à la scène.
Composition des Laudes de saint Antoine de Padoue. Composition de l'Elégie pour deux pianos.

1960 Tournée américaine et création le 23 février de la Voix Humaine aux Etats-Unis (au Carnegie Hall de New York avec Denise Duval), ainsi que des Mamelles de Tirésias.

1961 Dernier voyage aux Etats-Unis. Création le 20 janvier à Boston du Gloria, grand motet pour soprano solo, chœur mixte à quatre parties et orchestre. Alors que Charles Munch dirigeait cette création américaine, c'est Georges Prêtre qui dirige l'ONF et les chœurs de la RTF le 14 février. Parution de la version pour orchestre de Babar à la demande de Poulenc, réalisée par son ami Jean Français. Le 5 décembre, Denise Duval donne la Dame de Monte-Carlo, au Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, avec l'ONF dirigé par Georges Prêtre. La version pour piano est aujourd'hui beaucoup plus jouée.
Poulenc publie un ouvrage sur Emmanuel Chabrier.

1962 Sept Répons pour les ténèbres. Composition des Sonate pour clarinette et piano et Sonate pour hautbois et piano, posthumes, dont les créations ont lieu après la mort de Poulenc, en avril et juin 1963.

1963 Décès le 30 janvier, d'une crise cardiaque, à son domicile 5 rue de Médicis. A la demande du compositeur, les funérailles ont lieu dans la plus grande simplicité, avec pour seule musique Bach. Francis Poulenc est enterré au Père Lachaise, aux côtés de sa famille.
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Vesseline Stoyanov
Bulgaria (Republic), °1902 - 1969
Vesseline Stoyanov (1902-1969), son of Anastas Stoyanov and brother of Andrey Stoyanov, belongs to the second generation of Bulgarian composers. He was among the founders of the Contemporary Music Society in 1933 (which later became the Union of Bulgarian Composers). He graduated from the State Academy of Music in 1926 majoring in Piano under his brother. The same year he enrolled at the Vienna Hochschule für Musik studying Piano with Professor V. Ebenstein and Composition with Professor F. Schmidt. He took private classes of Piano with P. de Kohn and Orchestration with Wunderer. Upon his return to Bulgaria he taught Piano and Theory of Music (1931-37) and performed as a pianist and conductor. In 1937 he joined the staff of the State Academy of Music teaching music theory subjects. In 1945 he was appointed Professor of Composition and Music Forms. Eventually, he was elected Dean of the Music Theory Faculty (1952) and Rector of the State Academy of Music (1956-1962). He also served as director of the Sofia Opera (1953-54). He wrote and published articles on music aesthetics, music forms and contemporary Bulgarian music.
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Eugène Traey
Belgium, °1915 - 2006
Count Eugène Traey (1915-2006) was born in Amsterdam of Belgian parents and studied music at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Antwerp, where his piano teacher was Emmanuel Durlet. He went on to study in Paris under Robert Casadesus and in Germany under Karl Leimer and Walter Gieseking. After this international training as a pianist, Eugène Traey pursued a career both as a concert performer and a teacher at the Royal Conservatory of Antwerp, of which he was the director until 1980. He gave recitals, performed with orchestras and took part in chamber music recitals with Arthur Grumiaux and Jean Laurent, as well as performing piano duos with Frédéric Gevers. He was the founder of the deSingel concert hall in Antwerp and was a regular member of juries at international competitions (Moscow, Warsaw, Munich and Tokyo, among others). From 1982 until 1995 Eugène Traey presided over the jury of the Queen Elisabeth Competition.
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Aline van Barentzen
United States of America, °1897 - 1981
Aline van Barentzen (1897-1981) still holds the record as the youngest pianist, at 11 years old, to have won the First Prize at the Paris Conservatory. Her first recital was at the age of four, after which her mother moved with her from Boston to Paris for further music studies. Practicing six hours a day, at the age of seven she performed Beethoven's First Piano Concerto with orchestra, and at nine was accepted into the Paris Conservatory. Her teachers there included Marguerite Long and Delaborde. Later she studied in Berlin with Heinrich Barth and Ernst von Dohnanyi (among her fellow students were Artur Rubinstein and Wilhelm Kempff), and in Vienna with Leschetizky.

With Paris as her home she became friends with many of the leading musicians and composers of the early twentieth century, including Enesco, Poulenc, Messiaen, Roussel, and Villa Lobos, whose works she often premiered. She performed frequently throughout Europe with the leading conductors and recorded for His Master's Voice. She became a French citizen in the 1930's and spent the war in Paris, playing concerts as part of the effort to boost morale. In an interview/article in Clavier magazine, February 1981, she tells of how she was programmed to play Chopin's B minor Sonata and both volumes of the Etudes for the first half of a war-time concert, and of how she barely had the energy to make it through, due to the severe food shortages.

Aline absorbed scores quickly, learning all 24 Debussy Preludes during a vacation, and the Brahms Paganini Variations in five days. At one time she had an active repertoire of over 500 works. Her extensive early training resulted in complete technical mastery, it being told that when she went to study with Leschetizky he declared himself satisfied with her technique and spent his time on interpretation. Even though French music was her specialty she also recorded all of Beethoven's 32 sonatas for French Radio, and included a wide range of repertoire in her programs.

Her early teaching assignments included the Philadelphia Musical Academy and the Buenos Aires Conservatory. In 1954 she became Professor of Piano at the Paris Conservatory and can count Jean-Philippe Collard and Cyprien Katsaris among her famous students. She was decorated three times by the French government: the Chevalier des Arts et Lettres (1962), the Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur (1966), and the Officier de l'Ordre National du Merite (1975). In 1976 the Brazilian government bestowed upon her the Villa-Lobos Gold Medal. She was a frequent jury member of leading piano competitions and was at one time the president of the Bach-Leveque piano competition. She also composed piano pieces under her married name of Hoyle.
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