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Entrancing Muse

A Documented Biography of Francis Poulenc

Carl B. Schmidt
2002

651 pp.

24 illustrations

ISBN: 978-1576470268

hardback $64.00


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It is traditional wisdom that a composer's popularity wanes for at least ten years after his death. Not so with Poulenc whose music gained almost universal acceptance immediately after his death at the age of sixty-four. The present documented biography charts a new course in Poulenc scholarship by relying on thousands of primary sources many of which have not been consulted by previous Poulenc biographers. It is a detailed scrutiny of his day-to-day activities and his relationships with many friends and acquaintances. This study seeks not only to examine Poulenc as a composer but to place proper emphasis on his extensive career as a pianist accompanist and recording artist. Written by Carl B. Schmidt the author of the invaluable volume The Music of Francis Poulenc (1899-1963: A Catalogue this fascinating and rewarding biography caps the year-long celebrations of the Poulenc centenary by allowing the reader to enter into the world of this complex sophisticated and witty homme du monde.
Carl B. Schmidt:

Received his undergraduate degree with honors from Stanford University and his masters and doctoral degrees from Harvard University. His principal teachers were Putnam Aldrich, John Ward, Nino Pirrotta, and Nadia Boulanger (at Fontainebleau). He has written extensively on seventeenth-century Italian and French opera and ballet (notably Lully), on Georges Auric and Francis Poulenc, and is currently researching the 20th century American composer Randall Thompson and the history of the Handel Choir of Baltimore. His research and reviews have been published in numerous American and foreign journals including Journal of the American Musicological Society, Rivista Italiana di Musicologia, Music Library Association Notes, Musical Quarterly, Harvard Library Bulletin, Journal of Musicology, Dix-septième siècle, “Recherches” sur la Musique française classique, and Current Musicology, among others.

Schmidt has directed a college glee club on a seven-week/eight-country European tour, narrated Poulenc’s L’Histoire de Babar le petit elephant, in various concerts, and given lecture/recitals including several with mezzo-soprano Leneida Crawford and pianist Susan Ricci. In January 2013 he read a paper entitled “La method de composition de Francs Poulenc à travers ses brouillons” at the international Poulenc Colloquium at the Conservatoire national supérieur de musique et de danse in Paris.

A former Chairperson of the Towson University Department of Music, Schmidt teaches survey courses for non-majors and upper-division history classes for music majors including specialty courses on Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, the Arts in Paris, Igor Stravinsky, Symphonic Literature, and Vocal Literature. He lectures widely in the Philadelphia-Baltimore-Washington area, serves on the Board of Directors of The Handel Choir of Baltimore, and has been the recipient of significant grants from various universities, the American Council of Learned Societies, The National Endowment for the Humanities, and of a Harvard University Houghton Library Visiting Fellowship.