Richard Buell will be contributing a column from time to time on music in Boston. His first for BMInt features excerpts from Francis Poulenc, “‘Echo and Source’: Selected Correspondence 1915-1963,” translated and edited by Sidney Buckland; research consultant: Patrick Saul (London: Victor Gollancz Ltd, 1991)
“What a dismal town” — Francis Poulenc, the Gloria, and Boston
201. Francis Poulenc to Brigitte Manceaux
Boston, Tuesday evening, 3 January 1950
Well, that’s it … this morning we played through the Concerto [for piano] for the first time. The orchestration is excellent and Charloton [Charles Munch] is delighted, delighted. So am I. Of course I played like a pig — my attention being mainly on my orchestration — but I will rectify that in the morning. Naturally, the first movement changes the most (and for the better): the second subject is ravishing and the two orchestral tutti, soli – hopeless when played on two pianos — are on the contrary quite perfect. The Andante is as I expected, the Finale very amusing. The whole bang lot is stunning. The orchestra was delighted. Thirty Frenchmen among them. Munch has conducted the Concerto for organ twice this autumn — it has had an incredible success here. It has been recorded and I am going to hear the test copies any day now.
I am leading an austere life in this very puritanical town. Fortunately the museum is fantastic, as much for painting as for Egypt, Asia, Greece, etc.
Charloton is a treasure, and as French as Maurice Chevalier when one sees him in this environment. He lives in a charming country house, half an hour from the town. Naturally Ginette [Neveu’s] death was a most dreadful blow to him.
I rehearse every morning. Light, easy piano, very pleasant hall. By the grace of God. I eagerly await your news. Give mine to everybody around you. Pierre [Bernac] has just phoned from New York, delighted with his trip and entirely rejuvenated by his success.
On that note I leave you to go and rehearse.
A thousand tender kisses.