Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




The goal of this study was a familiarity with Poulenc's com- I positions for piano and a greater understanding of his style of writing for that instrument. To this end, a survey was made of nine elements of his work: (l) form (2) harmony (3) melody (4) tonality (5) rhythm and tempi (6) ornamentation (?) texture (8) dynamics and (9) pedal. The survey is prefaced by a biographical sketch and a study of the influences in Poulenc's music and his stylistic characteristics,

Conclusions reached as a result of this survey can be grouped, into five major areas.

First Conclusion: Poulenc's intent was to produce music which would please people, which therefore was to be immediately accessible to everyone.

Second Conclusions His style may be described as eclectic. Poulenc freely admitted borrowing from other composers. Major influences in his music were his piano teacher Ricardo Vines and the composers Igor Stravinsky, Erik Satie and Emmanuel Chabrier.

Third Conclusion: Poulenc composed in a manner which combined elements of both nineteenth and twentieth-century styles. His harmonies are diatonic with traditional root movements and are based on tertian structures. Forms are most frequently a modified ABA or a free succession of melodies unified by common rhythms or figuration. Tonalities are most frequently major keys but minor keys, or combinations can also be found. Rhythms are simple and almost always framed in. traditional meters. Melodies cover a wide range and display a variety of moods which parallel the many sides of Poulenc's personality.

Fourth Conclusion: Two aspects of the performance of Poulenc's music which were most important to the composer himself are (a) that enough pedal be used, and (b) that the tempo be strictly observed, and to this end Poulenc carefully marked any desired rubato or alteration of tempo.

Fifth Conclusion: Once considered the most fivolous composer of the group Les Six, Poulenc is now emerging as one of the most important. While he was not an innovator, Poulenc did write in a manner which was uniquely personal.