Francis Poulenc  (1899 - 1963)

Poulenc met Ravel in late 1917. At the age of eighteen, he was seeking a teacher with whom he could pursue his studies, and he wrote to his friend and previous teacher Ricardo Viñes to ask for an introduction to Ravel; this was duly given. (Poulenc [1991], p.24, letter 4 dated 26 Sept. 1917; p.25, letter 6 dated 14 Oct. 1917). (Poulenc later said that this meeting took place in March 1917 (Poulenc [1963], pp.173-177), but this seems unlikely in view of Ravel's emotional state in the aftermath of his mother's death, and is contradicted by the dates on Poulenc's letters.) The meeting did not go well: Ravel criticised his playing of a movement from Le Tombeau de Couperin (unpublished as yet), and disappointed Poulenc with his negative remarks on Schumann and late Debussy. Some years of coolness followed, shared by other members of the Groupe des Six, until the appearance of Ravel's opera L'Enfant et les sortilèges which enchanted Poulenc, and their relations improved thereafter.

In later years, Poulenc expressed his warm admiration for Ravel and regretted the callow attitudes of his youth. By 1938, he could speak of Ravel among his musical idols: "Believe me, the hours of doubt are dreadful, and the greatness of those I admire - Debussy, Ravel, Strauss, Stravinsky, Falla - must not be obscured by the mediocrity that generally prevails". ( Poulenc [1991] p.114, letter 138, to Yvonne Gouverné).

Poulenc was among the mourners who attended Ravel's funeral in 1937.

www.maurice-ravel.net