Germaine Tailleferre

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Germaine Tailleferre

Germaine Tailleferre with singer Mario Hacquard
Born Marcelle Taillefesse
April 19, 1892
Saint Maur Des Fossés, France
Died November 7, 1983
Paris, France
Residence France

Germaine Tailleferre (born Saint Maur Des Fossés, France, 19 April 1892; died Paris, 7 November 1983) was a French composer. She was one of the members of the famous group Les Six.

She was called Marcelle Taillefesse when she was born. When she was grown up she changed her last name to "Tailleferre" just to annoy her father because he had refused to let her study music. She studied piano with her mother at home, composing short works of her own and then began studying at the Paris Conservatoire. There she met Louis Durey, Francis Poulenc, Darius Milhaud, Georges Auric and Arthur Honegger. She won several prizes at the Conservatoire. She often met with her friends who became known as Les Six.

In 1923 Tailleferre began to spend a great deal of time with Maurice Ravel at his home in Monfort-L'Amaury. Ravel encouraged her to enter the Prix de Rome Competition. In 1925, she married Ralph Barton, an American caricaturist, and moved to Manhattan, New York. She stayed in the United States until 1927 when she and her husband returned to France. They divorced shortly afterwards.

Tailleferre wrote many of her most important works during the 1920s, including her 1st Piano Concerto, The Harp Concertino, the Ballets "Le Marchand d'Oiseaux" (the most often performed ballet in the repertoire of the Ballets Suédoises during the 1920s) and "La Nouvelle Cythère" which Diaghilev had asked her to write for his ballet company.

In the 1930s she composed the Concerto for Two Pianos, Choeurs, Saxophones and Orchestra, the Violin Concerto, the Operas "Zoulaïna" and "Le Marin de Bolivar", and her masterwork, "La Cantate de Narcisse", which she wrote with Paul Valéry. Her work in film music included "Le Petit Chose".

When World War II started she had to escape across Spain to Portugal and from there to America.

After the war, in 1946, she returned to her home in France where she composed a lot more music, much of which was not published until after her death. She was accompanist at a children's music and movement class. She wrote shorter pieces towards the end of her life because her arthritis made writing difficult.

Tailleferre carried on composing until a few weeks before her death in November 1983.

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