Germaine Tailleferre (1892-1983)

A French composer. Born in 19th of April, 1892 at Saint Maur des Fossés, near Paris. Her mother, Marie-Désiré forced to break up her engagement, to marry Germaine's father, Arthur. The forced-marriage life did not go well and the bitter situation made Marie-Desiré to put her heart into her daughter's education. With such family background, Germaine learned the basic skills of piano and composition. Although her father had not interested in music and ruled out the idea of his daughter to enter Paris conservatory to study music, Germaine pressed her advance forward to enter the conservatory in 1904 where she studied piano and solfege under Eva Mayer and obtained the first place in the class (because of this bitter relationship with her father, she later changed her last name from 'Taillefesse' to 'Tailleferre'). Then she continued her study of harmony under Henri Dallier, counterpoint and fugue under Georges Caussade,composition under Charles-Marie Widor and also obtained the first place in 1913 (counterpoint and harmony) and 1915 (fugue). During her life in the conservatory, she bacame to have the relationships with Milhaud, Auric and Honneger. On January 15th of 1918, she became a member of their group 'Nouveaux Jeunes (Neo Younger composers)'. A critic, Henri Collet subsequently called them 'The Six (Les Six)' in his paper published in the journal named 'Comedia' and since when they were likely to be called so. In 1925, Germaine married an American illustrator Ralph Burton and moved to the United States, and returned in 1927 (after that she divorced him and married a French attorny). After that she became famous for her works written for Ballet-Russe (Diagilev's Russian Ballet team) and has written many compositions. Although she became a teacher of Scola Cantorum in 1970, and Ecole Alsacienne in 1976, her evening life was distant from fame. She spent most of her afterlife with intimate relationship with George Hacquard's (chief of Ecole Alsacienne) family. Her style of composition can be characterized by neo-classical in form, romantic in mood and somewhat impressionistic in harmony such that Stravinsky once describe her piano concerto as 'a sincere music', even though she had tried to write some 12 tone tune in 1957. She died in Paris on November 11th, 1983. (Related internet source : Arpeggione / G. Tailleferre)


Main Works

Genre Titles in English : Titres en Français (year)
Stage works
Ballet
A bird marchant : le marchand d'oiseaux (1923)
Athena's times of bastide : sous les remparts d'Athènes (1926)
<harp concerto format also excists>
Paris - an attractive city : Paris-magie กส1949กห
Dolores : Dolorès (1950)
He is a small sailer : il était un petit navire (1951)
Mr. Pea buys a Castle of Athena : monsieur petit pois Achète un château (1955)
An ambitious man : le bel ambitieux (1955)
A poor Eugenie : la pauvre Eugénie (1955)
A Girl from the opera : la fille d'opéra (1955)
Parisian : Parisiana (1955)
A Small nymph : la petite sirène (1957)
Memories of Bergere : mémoires d'une bergère (1959)
A master : le maître (1959)
Orchestral Overture : ouverture (1932)
Small Suite : petite suite (1957)
Concerto Ballade for piano and orchestra : ballade pour piano et orchestre (1922) <p, orch>
Piano concerto : concerto pour piano et orchestre (1924) <p, orch>
Violin concerto : concerto pour violon et orchestre (1936) <vln, orch>
Three etudes : trois études (1942) <p, orch>
Concertino for flute and orchestra : concertino pour flûte et orchestre (1952) <fl, orch>
Concertino for flute, piano and chamber orchestra : concertino pour flûte, piano et orchestre de chambre (1953) <fl, p, cham-orch>
Chamber
Impromptu : impromptu (1912) <vln, p>
Lullaby : berceuse (1913) <vln, p>
String quartet : quatuor à cordes (1917) <2vln, vla, vc>
Pastral in B major : pastorale en ré majeur (1919) <vln, p>
hommage to Claude Debussy : hommage à Claude Debussy (1920) <vln, p>
Violin sonata No.1 : sonate pour violon et piano No.1 (1921) <vln, p>
Adagio : adagio (1924) <vln, p>
Pastoral : pastorale en la bémol majeur (1928) <vln, p>
saxophone quartet : quatuor à saxophones (1934) <4sax>
Violin sonata No.2 : sonate pour violon et piano No.2 (1956) <vln, p/fl, p>
Harp sonata : sonate pour harpe (1957) <hrp>
Clarinet sonata : sonate pour clarinette et piano (1958) <cl>
Hommage to Rameau : hommage à Rameau (1964) <2p, 4perc>
Forlane : forlane (1972) <fl, p>
Arabesque : arabesque (1973) <cl, p>
Rondeau : rondeau (1973) <ob, p>
Trumpet sonata : sonate pour trompette et piano (1973) <tp, p>
Sonatine for violin and piano : sonatine (1973) <vln, p>
Provincial sonata : sonate champêtre (1978?) <3winds, p>
Serenade : sérénade (1978?) <3winds, p>
Piano Solo Romance : romance (1912)
Playing outside : jeux de plein air (1917)
Sicilienne in F : sicilienne en fa (1928)
Flowers of France : fleurs de France (1930)
Concerto grosso : concerto grosso (1934) <2p>
In a small house in Alsace : au pavillon d'Alsace (1937)
Alone to the forest : seule dans la forêt (1951)
In an open space : dans la clairière (1952)
Partita : partita (1957)
Toccata : toccata (1957) <2p>
Scarlatina : scarlatina (1975)
Infanties : enfantines (1978)
Three sonatines : trois sonatine (1978)
Songs Six French songs : six chansons Française (1930)
Five French popular folksongs : cinq chansons populaire Française (1952)
From French folksongs : chansons du folklore de France (1955)
concertino : concertino pour colorature et orchestre (1957) <vo, orch>
Concerto of vain paroles : concerto des vaines paroles (1958)
Nocturne-Fox : notturno-fox (1958)
Choral Concerto for 2 pianos, mixed chorus, 4 saxophones and orchestra : concerto (1934) <2p, choir, 4sax, orch>
A cantata of Narcis : la cantate du Narcisse (1937)
Concerto of fidelity : concerto de la fidelité (1981) <f-vo, orch>


Tailleferre Disc-Review


"Fleurs de France / Pastorale en la bémol / Pastorale en ut / Petite Suite / Au Pavillon d'Alsace / Enfantines / Deux Pièces / Partita / Sicilienne" (Voice of Lyrics : VOL C 331)
Luba Timofeyeba (piano)
Today, at February 2003 period, this is absolutely the best Tailleferre recording ever made. First, the selection of works are well-ballanced. From 'Fleurs' and 'Pastorale' (impressionistic in harmony and polytonality) via 'Alsace' or 'Enfanties' (relatively classical in form), 'Deux Pièces' (Satie-rooted), to the 12 tone-applied tune 'Partita'. They altogether sound like 'sincere music' for which once Stravinsky described. Secondly, the solist's roundish but hard piano touch, rubato with love of motif, and minute usage of pedals are all extraordinally well-controlled and highly elaborated. Her interpretation clarifes every nook and corner of the characteristics of the Group of Six's idiom : the traditionally-rooted modernism. The solist, Ms. Timofeyeba is a Russian. After the graduation of Tchaicowsky Conservatory, she obtained two first prizes at Prague and Long-Thibaud International Competitons. Now she lives in Province.

"Intermezzo / Larghetto / Jeux de Plein Air / Toccata / Suite Burlesque / Deux Valses / Funtango / La Nouvelle Cythère / Image / Sonate" (Élan : CD 82278)
Mark Clinton, Nicle Narboni (pianos)
This is rare Tailleferre piano duo works performed by the Piano duo, Clinton-Narboni, formed in 1986. Although this is first time for me to listen their name and their performance, their performance is excellent. Especially in their roundish and light piano-touch. Even though they play any fast tune, their fingering is never being disordered. Actually, they has awarded by numerous competitons such as Pro-Piano resitals of New York in 1994, NFMC Ellis Piano Conpetiton in 1995, and Concorso Internazionale Carlo Soliva in 1996. Also they were appointed as staffs of piano department in University of Nebraska, Lincoln. As for the contents, the tunes are all composed in Milhaud-like polytonal-neo-classicism manner. Her compositional diction is baroque-rooted, soft, and arcaic one that is decorated and strained by polytonal harmonies. Maybe the available fingers are more than piano solo, the duo tunes contain more of harmonies which add larger modern context. If you feel her compositions sounds like light music for a bit, you should try this one before you gave up her works.

"Trio / Calme sans Lenteur / Sonate pour Violon et Piano No.1, No.2 / Sonatine / Berceuse / Adagio / Pastorale" (Timpani : 1C1063)
Cristina Ariagno (p) Massimo Martin (vln) Manuel Zigante (vc)
The only lady in Group of Six, Tailleferre is an underrated composer without sufficient amount of recordings until now. For the persons who wish to explore modern French music (like me), Timpani is recognized as one of the most confidential label. This time is no exception. This recording is a well-ballanced one in selection of tunes which can make listeners to grasp her general (romantically 'modest') compositional idioms without much confusion. However, there is still a bit of room for improvement in the performance. Although the piano accompaniment with an unassuming stance is largely favorable, I am on squiffy side to glorify the sensory in pitch and tone control of the violin. Even though of the defects, I still reccomend this CD for every beginner as one of the first choices. As far as I know, this CD consists of the most beautifully written compositions (especially the 'Trio' plus 'Calme sans Lenteur') with the most famous chamber works of two violin sonatas, recorded by acceptable performances. Incidentally, the linernotes was written by G. Hacquard. It is truly a small pleasure to find his name on it. He became the chairman of Tailleferre Association after the composer's death although the association was ceased later on. Since he and his family once had a good relationship with the composer during her last days, everybody can not imagine the better person to become the head of the association!

"Sonate No.1 et No.2 / Pastorale / Berceuse / Adagio / Sonatine (pour Violon et Piano) Romance / Impromptu / Trois Pastorales / Hommage à Debussy (pour Piano) Rondo pour Haubois et Piano / Choral / Gaillarde (pour Trompette et Piano)" (Cambria : CD-1085)
Marcia Eckert (p) Ruth Ehrlich (vln) Robert Ingliss (ob) Raymond Mase (tp)
The present disc, recorded in 1994, was performed mainly by an English violinist Ms.Ehrlich who previously had been the first violinist of Fairfield String Quartet - the winner of Karl Cringler SQ competition and Ms. Eckert who acted in NY region as a member of Seraphim Trio. Above all, I should start commenting the value of this of the time this was published. We can easily imagine how this CD was monumental by knowing the fact that 'Berceuse', 'Adagio', 'Romance', 'Impromptu', two out of the three 'Pastorales', 'Hommage to Debussy' and all tunes for trumpet and oboe were all world first recordings. The main performers can be better described as members of orchestras rather than solo players because their personal record are occupied mostly by the status as members of orchestras. It is easy to find their personal records in their performance. Above all, it is regretable to write the ability of violin is too weak to perform as a soloist. her tone is loose in pitch sensory so that she intended to take larger vibratos to erase the defect but the act made her sound not sophisticated (like a country violinist). I can not help worryng that the performance enbroaden the misunderstandings about the composers although they tried to reduce it by this recording. However, the selection of tunes are largely favorable. Also the latter half (from piano solo part to piano with tp and oboe) is mainly occupied acceptable performances so I can say it is one of the weakly recommendable ones.

"The Music of Germaine Tailleferre vol.1 :
Images / Quatuor / Forlane / Chansons Populaires Françaises / Sonate pour harpe / Deux Valses / Galliarde"
(Hericon : HE 1008)
Nicole Paiement (cond) Porter String Quartet : Karen Andrie (vc) Elizabeth Bodine (ob) Jill Cohen (vla) Andy Connell (cl) John Fairweather (vln) et al.

As far as I know, this should be one of first CDs devoted whole program to Tailleferre compositions, which add momentum to re-evaluation of this underrated composer. Performed by Nicole Paiement, a music teacher in San Fransisco region seemed to direct the plan and recorded whole with his associates and pupils. Because of the background, it is really regretable to confess the performance has a lot of loose ends. Also, as you can imagine from the jacket design, this disc focused on the exoteric lighter-side of her composition. Anyways, I sent this to my hometown pretty long ago and haven't heard for a long time. Therefore I had better stop commenting on it further until I listen again when I go back to my hometown for the next time.

"Music of Germaine Taileferre vol.2 :
Deux Pièces / Valse Lente / Concerto pour Piano / Pastorale / Partita / Pastorale pour Violon et Piano / Concerto pour Flûte et Piano / Impromptu" (Helicon : HE1048)

Nicole Paiement (cond) California Parallèle Ensemble and The University of California-Santa Cruz Orchestra
'California Parallel Ensemble' - formed by Ms. Paiement in 1995 - is a collective unit of the regional musicians to re-discover unknown modern and postmodern composers. This is the second volume of their Tailleferre works. The composer's favor of neo-classicism can be found in Piano concerto and Flute concerto while Partita employs twelve tone technique and sounds like a scowl in Province region so that we can say the selection gets wider and varified. Although the performance is fairly not so sophisticated, they all well-sympathize the compositions, and that makes this disc favorable to be recommend as a first disc to getting to know Tailleferre. However, I do not think they chose good the recording equipments or environment. The sound resembles the beggining era of stereophonic recording.

"Concertino pour Harpe et Piano / Impromptu / Romance / Pastorale en re, en la b / Valse Lente / Sicilienne / Six Chansons Francaises / Vocalise pour Voix élevée / Fleurs de France / Sonate pour Harpe / La Rue Chagrin / Partita" (Nuova Era : 7341)
Cristina Ariagno (p) Gabriella Bosio (hrp) Claire Gouton (vo)

Italian pianist Ms. Ariagno actively forms Art-Nouneau Ensemble. According to her, she still wishes to give full play her enthusiasm to dig out other relatively minor modern French composers further (I hope she will enlighten the keenest listers with the recordings of the deepest hidden treasures such as Ladmirault, Vuillemin, Rhené-Baton, Jean Huré, Jean Wiener, Gallois-Montbrun, or Roland-Manuel in the near future). The attitude is truly respectable, even though the dream has just started to come to be realised. Although it is fairly easy to find not a few performers who have interested and recorded one or two particular composer(s) for a few times, it is difficult to imagine other pianists whose interest and repertoire cover whole French modernists, except the great Marie-Cathérine Girod. This hardship for modern composers makes Ms. Aliagno's existence precious. This is one of her Tailleferre recordings consists of mélodies with piano and harp solos. As the cover design implies, the works summarized the composer's Parisian-like, modest, simple, and romantic features. It is hard to listen without smiling oneself because of her pretty wit to hold a meeting between D. Milhaud's poly-tonal technique and E. Satie's 'simpleness-is-beautiful' aethetics in her scores. Ability of the performers at this time is better ballanced, comparing with the Timpani chamber works.(Acknowledgement : The site owner is indepted to Ms. Ariagno for kindly providing this disc to enrich this discography and spread the composer's fame)

Le Groupe des Six "Sonate (Poulenc) : Imaginees / Aria (Auric) : Forlane (Tailleferre) : Romance / Danse de la Chevre (Honegger) : Deux Dialogues / Sonatine 1 / Sonatine 2 / Sonatine 3 (Durey) : Album des Six : Sonatne (Milhaud)"(Adda : 581176)
Loïc Poulain (fl) Daria Hovora (p)
As far as I know, this is one of the oldest Group of Six CD performed by a French flutist Poulain - who also recorded Gaubert's flute works. Comparing with the rival disc as stated below, this disc can be characterized as more of French-rooted lightness and being refreshingly unrestrained atmosphere. Although the inferity in tonguing technique (comparing with the other one) made the 3'rd movement of Poulenc sonata a bit hard and brittle, his soft sound like feather is really favorable. Although this one includes just one tune of Tailleferre, the tune 'forlane' is a masterpiece of romantic idiom. On the one hand, Group of Six can be characterized as Picasso-like attitude (by fragmentize the traditional sound and corage it), they also intended to re-discover a beauty in simple and traditionally modest style by putting a distant from contemporary music (which was becoming predominant), like Eric Satie did. This tune 'forlane' is a good example of the latter such as Milhaud's 'Duo Concertante'. Small pieces, but sounds intimate and melodic, which will attract many modest music lovers. This CD has one more merit that includes 5 pieces by another seriously underrated composer, Louis Durey.

"Saudades de Brazil (Milhaud) Sonate No.2 (Tailleferre) La Nativite (Auric) / Sonate (Poulenc) / Romance et Danse de la Chevre (Honegger) Sonatine (Milhaud) Les Chemins de l'Amour (Poulenc) Moulin Rouge (Auric)" (Etcetera : KTC 1073)
Ransom Wilson (fl) Christopher O'Riley (p)

As far as I know, this CD includes the best performance for Tailleferre's sonata No.2 (even though it is performed by flute). The flutist was found by a famous conductor L. Bernstein and was a director of New York Solisti. He played with the pianist, O'Riley for years and have chosen American National Broadcast Award in 1989. Since his field is mainly in the states, it may affect his choice of instrument or style of playing so that his sound tastes a bit heavier and moist than the French flutists. Although the differentiated sound may confuse some of the listeners who are accustomed to the sound of flute played in French manner, I can reccomend this disc with confidence. The strongest merit of this disc is the quality of performance. Technically complete, with loose fitting softness is really impressive. Especially, in the tricky Poulenc's sonata 3'rd movement, the soloist and accompanist demonstrates clear superiority than the other flute disc. Even though we come to have not a few the discs introducing Group of Six recently, this should be one of the top-rated disc among them still. If you are searching for a beautfully performed Tailleferre's violin sonata No.2, I reccomend this version with my largest attribute of praise.
(2002. 11. 25 Japanese edition ; 2002 12. 27 English edition uploaded.)