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Encyclopedia > Les Six
Le Groupe des Six, 1922, by Jacques-Emile Blanche. In the center, pianist Marcelle Meyer; from bottom to top: Germaine Tailleferre, Darius Milhaud, Arthur Honegger, Louis Durey; on the right: Georges Auric, Francis Poulenc, Jean Cocteau.
Le Groupe des Six, 1922, by Jacques-Emile Blanche. In the center, pianist Marcelle Meyer; from bottom to top: Germaine Tailleferre, Darius Milhaud, Arthur Honegger, Louis Durey; on the right: Georges Auric, Francis Poulenc, Jean Cocteau.

Les Six is a name, inspired by The Five, given in 1920 by critic Henri Collet to a group of six composers working in Montparnasse whose music is often seen as a reaction against Wagnerism and Impressionism. photo of painting in the public domain This image has been released into the public domain by the copyright holder, its copyright has expired, or it is ineligible for copyright. ... photo of painting in the public domain This image has been released into the public domain by the copyright holder, its copyright has expired, or it is ineligible for copyright. ... The Mighty Handful (Moguchaya Kuchka / Могучая Кучка in Russian), better known as The Five in English-speaking countries, was a label applied in 1867 by the critic Vladimir Stasov to a loose collection of Russian classical composers brought together under the leadership of Mily Balakirev with the aim of producing... The Montparnasse Tower, which at 209m was the tallest building in Western Europe when it was built. ... Richard Wagner Wilhelm Richard Wagner (May 22, 1813 in Leipzig – February 13, 1883 in Venice) was an influential German composer, conductor, music theorist, and essayist, primarily known for his groundbreaking symphonic-operas (or music dramas). His compositions are notable for their continuous contrapuntal texture, rich harmonies and orchestration, and elaborate... Impressionism was a 19th century art movement that began as a loose association of Paris-based artists who began publicly exhibiting their art in the 1860s. ...

Contents


Members

Formally the Groupe des Six members were:

Many more were involved, notably Erik Satie, Jean Cocteau and Jean Wiéner. Georges Auric (February 15, 1899 – July 23, 1983) was a French composer, born in Lodève, Hérault, Languedoc-Roussillon, France. ... Louis Durey ( May 27, 1888 - July 3, 1979) was a French composer. ... Arthur Honegger (March 10, 1892 – November 27, 1955) was a Swiss composer, who was born in France and lived a large part of his life in Paris. ... Darius Milhaud (September 4, 1892 – June 22, 1974) was a French-Jewish composer and teacher. ... Francis Jean Marcel Poulenc (January 7, 1899 - January 30, 1963) was a French composer. ... Germaine Tailleferre (April 19, 1892 - November 7, 1983) was a French composer and the only female member of the famous Group Les Six. ... Erik Satie (right) and Claude Debussy (left) - picture taken probably between 1910 and 1915. ... Jean Maurice Eugène Clément Cocteau (July 5, 1889 – October 11, 1963) was a French poet, novelist, dramatist, designer, boxing manager and filmmaker. ...


Prelude: Les Nouveaux Jeunes

In 1917, when many theatres and concert halls were closed because of the war, Blaise Cendrars and the painter Moise Kisling decided to put on a concert at 6 Rue Huyghens, the studio of the painter Emile Lejeune. For this event, the walls of the studio were decorated with canvases by Picasso, Matisse, Leger, Modigliani and others. Music by Satie, Honegger, Auric and Durey was played. It was this concert that gave Erik Satie the idea of assembling a group of composers around himself to be known as Les Nouveaux Jeunes, forerunners of Les Six. 1917 (MCMXVII) was a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar (see link for calendar) or a common year starting on Tuesday of the 13-day slower Julian calendar. ... Frédéric Louis Sauser (September 1, 1887 - January 21, 1961), better known as Blaise Cendrars, was a Swiss novelist and poet. ... Moise Kisling Moise Kisling (January 22, 1891 - April 29, 1953) was a Polish painter. ... Young Pablo Picasso Pablo Ruiz Picasso (Full name) (October 25, 1881 in Málaga, Spain – April 8, 1973) was a Spanish painter and sculptor. ... Photo of Henri Matisse taken by Carl Van Vechten, 1933 Henri Matisse (December 31, 1869 – November 3, 1954) was a French artist, particularly noted for his striking use of colour. ... Joseph Fernand Henri Léger (February 4, 1881 - August 17, 1955) was an artist. ... Amedeo Clemente Modigliani (July 12, 1884 – January 24, 1920) was a Jewish Italian painter and sculptor. ... Erik Satie (right) and Claude Debussy (left) - picture taken probably between 1910 and 1915. ...


Les Six

According to Milhaud:

"[Collet] chose six names absolutely arbitrarily, those of Auric, Durey, Honegger, Poulenc, Tailleferre and me simply because we knew each other and we were pals and appeared on the same musical programmes, no matter if our temperaments and personalities weren't at all the same! Auric and Poulenc followed ideas of Cocteau, Honegger followed German Romanticism, and myself, Mediterranean lyricism! (Ivry 1996)"

But that is only one reading of how the Groupe des Six originated: other authors, like Ornella Volta, would stress the manoeuverings of Jean Cocteau to become the leader of an avant-garde group devoted to music, like the cubist and surrealist groups had sprang in visual arts and literature shortly before, with Picasso, Apollinaire and Breton as their key representatives. The fact that Satie had abandoned the Nouveaux Jeunes less than a year after starting the group, was the "gift from heaven" that made it all come true for Cocteau: his 1918 publication Le Coq et l'Arlequin is said to have ticked it off. Jean Maurice Eugène Clément Cocteau (July 5, 1889 – October 11, 1963) was a French poet, novelist, dramatist, designer, boxing manager and filmmaker. ... A work similar to Marcel Duchamps Fountain Avant garde (written avant-garde) is a French phrase, one of many French phrases used by English speakers. ... Woman with a guitar by Georges Braque, 1913 Cubist house in Prague Cubism was probably the most important and influential art movement since the Italian Renaissance; it was an avant-garde art movement that revolutionized European painting and sculpture in the early 20th century. ... 240 The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali is one of the most famous surrealist paintings. ... The visual arts are a class of artforms, including painting, sculpture, photography, and others, that focus on the creation of artworks which are primarily visual in nature. ... Literature is literally acquaintance with letters as in the first sense given in the Oxford English Dictionary (from the Latin littera meaning an individual written character (letter)). The term has generally come to identify a collection of texts, which in Western culture are mainly prose, both fiction and non-fiction... A young Pablo Picasso Pablo Picasso, formally Pablo Ruiz Picasso, (October 25, 1881 - April 8, 1973) was one of the recognized masters of 20th century art. ... Guillaume Apollinaire (August 26, 1880 _ November 9, 1918) was a poet, writer, and art critic. ... André Breton (February 18, 1896 – September 28, 1966) was a French writer, poet, and surrealist theorist. ...


After World War I, Jean Cocteau and Les Six began to frequent Le Boeuf sur le Toit (The Ox on the Roof), which was named after a work by Milhaud. On the bar's opening night, pianist Jean Wiéner played tunes by George Gershwin and Vincent Youmans while Cocteau and Milhaud played percussion. Among those in attendance were Russian impresario Serge Diaghilev, Pablo Picasso, filmmaker René Clair, singer Jane Bathori, and Maurice Chevalier. World War I, also known as the First World War and (before 1939) the Great War, the War of the Nations, War to End All Wars, was a world conflict lasting from August 1914 to the final Armistice (cessation of hostilities) on November 11, 1918. ... Le Boeuf sur le Toit (The Ox on the Roof), 1920 is a surrealist ballet. ... George Gershwin photograph by Edward Steichen in 1927. ... Vincent Youmans (September 27, 1898 - April 5, 1946) was an American popular composer and Broadway producer. ... Sergei Pavlovich Diaghilev (Сергей Павлович Дягилев) (March 19, 1872 – August 19, 1929), often known as Serge, was a Russian ballet impresario and founder of the Ballets Russes from which many famous dancers and choreographers would later arise. ... Young Pablo Picasso Pablo Ruiz Picasso (Full name) (October 25, 1881 in Málaga, Spain – April 8, 1973) was a Spanish painter and sculptor. ... René Clair (November 11, 1898 – March 15, 1981) was a French filmmaker. ... Jane Bathori (June 14, 1877 - January 25, 1970) was a French opera singer. ... Maurice Chevalier (September 12, 1888 – January 1, 1972) was a French actor and popular entertainer. ...


The Group was officially launched in January 1920 by a series of two articles by the French music critic and composer Henri Collet in the French journal "Commedia". While it seems apparent that Cocteau was behind these articles, the actual name of the Group was selected by Collet who decided to compare the Six with the Five Russians.


The group published an album of piano pieces together (the famous "Album des Six"). Five of the members also collaborated together on the music for Cocteau's work "Les Mariés de La Tour Eiffel" which was produced by the Ballets Suédois, the rival to the Ballets Russes. Cocteau had originally proposed the project to Auric, but as Auric did not finish rapidly enough to fit into the rehearsal schedule, he then divided the work up among the other members of the Les Six. Durey, who was not in Paris at the time, did not participate. The première was the ocassion of a public scandal which rivaled that of "Le Sacré du Printemps" only years before. Inspite of this, "Les Mariés de la Tour Eiffel" was in the repertoire of the Ballets Suédois throughout the 1920s.


It is not correct to say that Les Mariés de la Tour Eiffel marked "the end of the Group des Six", as Durey was present for every concert and other manifestation that marked the annversaries of the founding of the Group. Les Six did not ever cease to exist, they simply took their own individual paths that they had annonced from the beginning.


The legacy of Les Six is present even today in their surviving children, spouses and associates.


Music by Erik Satie and Les Six

  • Parade – Satie, and some noise-making instruments added by Cocteau (no direct relation with Les Six: composed and premiered before the first ideas about the Nouveaux Jeunes emerged, by people that would never formally be members of the Groupe des Six: Satie, Cocteau, Picasso, Ballets Russes)
  • (presented as a Nouveaux Jeunes production:) Second set of furniture music: Chez un 'bistrot' and Un Salon (1920) – Satie (premiered with Milhaud)
  • Les Mariés de la Tour Eiffel (1921) – collaboration project by Milhaud - Auric - Tailleferre - Honegger - Poulenc, on a scenario by Cocteau.
  • Mercure – Satie, and Salade – Milhaud, premiered 1924 in a production of Count Etienne de Beaumont (for these productions there was however more involvement of Ballets Russes performers, than of the Groupe des Six).
  • La Nouvelle Cythère – Tailleferre, written in 1929 for the Ballets Russes and unproduced because of Diaghilev's sudden death
  • Romance sans paroles – Durey
  • Cinq Bagatelles – Auric
  • Sonate pour violoncelle et piano – Poulenc (see also Category of Poulenc compositions)
  • Scaramouche – Milhaud
  • Le Boeuf sur le Toit – Milhaud
  • Sonate pour violon seul – Honegger
  • Suite Burlesque – Germaine Tailleferre (composed in 1980, when only Tailleferre and Auric remained alive)

Parade is a ballet with music by Erik Satie and a one-act scenario by Jean Cocteau. ... Furniture music, or musique d’ameublement, was French avant-garde composer Erik Saties theory of minimalist background music. ... Scaramouche is a historical novel by Rafael Sabatini, originally published in 1921 and subsequently adapted into a play by Barbara Field and into feature films in 1923 and 1952. ... Le Boeuf sur le Toit (The Ox on the Roof), 1920 is a surrealist ballet. ...

External links

References

  • Ivry, Benjamin (1996). Francis Poulenc. Phaidon Press Limited. ISBN 071483503X.
  • FONDATION ERIK SATIE, Le groupe des Six et ses amis: 70e anniversaire - Placard, Paris 1990 - 40 p. - ISBN 2-907523-01-5
  • Ornella Volta, Satie/Cocteau - les malentendus d'une entente: avec des lettres et des textes inédits d'Erik Satie, Jean Cocteau, Valentine Hugo et Guillaume Apollinaire - Castor Astral - 1993 - ISBN 2859202080
  • Cocteau, Jean - LE COQ ET L'ARLEQUIN: Notes Autour de la Musique - Avec un Portrait de l'Auteur et Deux Monogrammes par P. Picasso - Paris, Éditions de la Sirène - 1918
  • Roger Nichols - The Harlequin Years: Music in Paris 1917-1929 - 2002 - ISBN 0500510954

  Results from FactBites:
 
Les Six - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (861 words)
Les Six is a name, inspired by The Five, given in 1920 by critic Henri Collet to a group of six composers working in Montparnasse whose music is often seen as a reaction against Wagnerism and Impressionism.
After World War I, Jean Cocteau and Les Six began to frequent Le Boeuf sur le Toit (The Ox on the Roof), which was named after a work by Milhaud.
Les Mariés de la Tour Eiffel (1921) – collaboration project by Milhaud - Auric - Tailleferre - Honneger - Poulenc, on a scenario by Cocteau.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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