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Jean Françaix

Jean Françaix au travail - Photo de famille

Born in Le Mans on the 23th of may 1912, Jean Françaix grew up in family of musicians. His father, Alfred Françaix was a composer and a pianist, and was as well the director of the Mans music school during sixteen years. His mother was a sing teacher in this music school.
After studies with his father, Jean Françaix went to Paris to study piano and composition with Nadia Boulanger. He obtained his first prize diploma from Paris Conservatoire at the age of eighteen.

Eight years after, his Concertino for piano and orchestra was played in Baden-Baden during the music chamber festival and it was his first great success as a composer. Heinrich Stobel wrote: "It was a triumph unusual in a such meeting of specialists. After so much music with problematic or without authenticity, this Concertino was just as fresh water which springs out of the source with gracious spontaneity, and in the same time, just as the creation of an intelligent artist who has lucidity and consciousness, which are rare nowadays."

Jean Françaix realised the "making pleasure" which was the French music supreme purpose for Debussy. Françaix's works are typically French: they have some charm and spirit. There is often some irony in them. The style of this composer resides in his sense of humour, his big literary culture, and his relationship with occidental musical tradition: this turn of mind was appreciated for films music, especially in collaboration with Sacha Guitry, for who he composed Les perles de la couronne, Si Paris m'était conté, Si Versailles m'était conté…

Asked about his own music, Jean Françaix wrote: "I was told that my works were easy. These who say that probably never play my works themselves. My works were qualified of rashly. I don't have the impression that my Oratorio L'Apocalypse selon Saint Jean is near from Orphée aux Enfers. My works are not considered as contemporary music, but I am not yet dead."

These words taken not far from the death of Jean Françaix show how the music of this composer has difficulties to find its place in the French musical landscape.

Jean Francaix died on the 25th of September 1997.

Manuscript of Jean Françaix

Courtesy of Jacques Françaix

Jean Françaix on piano, Tribute to friend Papageno

Video uploaded on May 18, 2017
Courtesy of Jacques Françaix

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