Poulenc, Francis. (1899–1963) [Wiener, Jean. (1896–1982)]


Paris: Au Ménestrel [...] Heugel. 1924. Piano and vocal score to the important French composer's ballet Les Biches, signed and inscribed by the composer on the title page to the composer Jean Wiener and dated 1924. Poulenc has penned (translated from the French): "To Jean Wiener with all my profound affection and a thousand excuses for having removed an end page that was a bit stained.  / Francis, 1924." Paris: Au Ménestrel [...] Heugel. 1924.  [PN] H. 28,730. 96 pp. Bound together and following Stravinsky's "Grande Suite de L'histoire du Soldate. Arrangement pour Piano par L'Auteur" (London: Chester Ltd., 1918), [PN] J. & W.C. 2080; Title-Table -1 - 50pp. Half brown leather over green marbled boards, five raised bands to spine. Occasional pencil markings in the Stravinsky score, presumably in the hand of Wiener, else fine internally. Board edges somewhat worn, spine rubbed with joints starting to separate a little in lower compartment. Overall fine. 9.75 x 12.25 inches (25 x 31.5 cm).

In 1924, the 25-year-old Poulenc was commissioned by Diaghilev to compose a piece based on Glazunov's "Les Sylphides." Instead, the young composer produced a work based on the paintings of Watteau depicting Louis XIV and various women in his "Parc aux Biches." (The word biche is usually translated as "doe," an adult female deer, but "does" was used as a slang for coquettish women.) Poulenc described his work as "a contemporary drawing room party suffused with an atmosphere of wantonness, which you sense if you are corrupted, but of which an innocent-minded girl would not be conscious." Diaghilev recognized the great potential of the ballet and produced it for the 1924 Ballet Russes season, bringing Poulenc into the forefront of French music. In "The Rest is Noise" (2007), Alex Ross notes that "Poulenc would write more substantial scores - he had the richest, most surprising career of any of Les Six - but Les Biches retains its nasty champagne kick after all these years." 

Jean Wiener (1896 -1982) trained at the Conservatoire in Paris, where he studied alongside Darius Milhaud, and worked with Erik Satie. He then embarked on a career as concert impresario, composer and pianist. He was the house pianist at the Gaya bar, and later at Le Boeuf sur le Toit. In 1924 a chance encounter with Clement Doucet (who succeeded him at Le Boeuf) brought him into the world of popular music. Already a jazz enthusiast, Wiener found fame with Doucet in the music halls of Europe as a piano duet, under the name "Wiener and Doucet" in which they performed classical music, hot dance and jazz. He was of some significance in the promotion of new music, both by his friends in the Les Six (Milhaud, Poulenc, etc.), and by composers such as Schoenberg, Berg and Webern. His compositions involve the use of jazz informed by French wit and elegance. (18614)

Printed Music
Classical Music
Signed Document/Item