Composers: The Poulenc Puzzle

Nothing was so amusing to French Composer Francis Poulenc as hearing his friends marvel at the quilt of contradictions that masked his music and his life. "I am half-monk, half-bounder," he would say, and his friends would add that he was also a cultured vulgarian, a moody wit, a seedy dandy—a puzzle. He wrote flippant music and sacred music, funny, jazzy profane music, and he also wrote some of the century's greatest songs. Since his death in Paris last January, the Poulenc puzzle has become his epitaph—as though his critics and colleagues would rather cherish their confusion than resolve it....

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