Having told you about The Five in Russia, I thought it only fitting to tell you about Les Six in France.
Les Six (the name was inspired by the Russian group and first used by music critic Henri Collet) were a group of six composers in Paris. The six were Georges Auric, Louis Durey, Arthur Honegger, Darius Milhaud, Francis Poulenc, and Germaine Tailleferre. Jean Cocteau was one of their main promoters.
The members of the group were friends before the concept of Les Six was put forward. Although stylistically they were very different composers, they wanted to write music that was different from the works of Wagner, Debussy, and Ravel.
The one collaboration that all six collaborated in was L’album des Six, a series of piano pieces. Later sporadic collaborative works were composed by some subset of the group. Early in their association, they regularly gave concerts together.
Here is a video presenting extracts from L’Album des Six, performed by Dimitri Malignan. You will hear Auric’s Prélude, Honnegger’s Sarabande, Milhaud’s Mazurka, and Poulenc’s Valse.
Here is Tailleferre’s Romance.
And last, Louis Durey’s Nocturne.
- Bialek, Mireille, “Jacques-Emile Blanche et le Groupe des Six”. La Gazette: Des Amis des Musees De Rouen et du Havre No 15, December 2012, p 7. http://amis-musees-rouen.fr/fichiers/gazette/gazette_2012.pdf
Image attribution: Le Groupe des Six, 1921 painting by Jacques-Émile Blanche [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ALes_Six_Tableau.jpg. Only five of Les Six are represented; Louis Durey was not present. In the center: pianist Marcelle Meyer. On the left, from bottom to top: Germaine Tailleferre, Darius Milhaud, Arthur Honegger, Jean Wiener. On the right, standing Francis Poulenc, Jean Cocteau; and seated Georges Auric.