Role models of greatness.
Here you will discover the back stories of kings, titans of industry, stellar athletes, giants of the entertainment field, scientists, politicians, artists and heroes – all of them gay or bisexual men. If their lives can serve as role models to young men who have been bullied or taught to think less of themselves for their sexual orientation, all the better. The sexual orientation of those featured here did not stand in the way of their achievements.
Sunday, August 28, 2011
Composer Francis Poulenc
During the late 1920s Poulenc first acted on his homosexuality when he met painter Richard Chanlaire, who became his lover. Poulenc’s second lover, the bisexual Raymond Destouches, was a chauffeur and dedicatee of several of Poulenc’s compositions. The success of his 1924 ballet score for Diaghilev’s “Les biches” (The Deer) led to the commissions of his Concerto for Two Pianos* (1932) and the Organ Concerto (1938) by lesbian American expatriate Winnaretta Singer, known as Princesse Edmond de Polignac.
Leonard Bernstein commissioned Poulenc to write "Sept répons des ténèbres" (1961) for the opening of the Philharmonic Hall (now known as Avery Fisher Hall) at Lincoln Center, NYC. Shortly thereafter Poulenc died of a heart attack on January 30, 1963. One of the most honored composers of his time, he left an enduring legacy.
Poulenc at the piano with Jean-Pierre Rampal on flute. Poulenc (in a close-up) takes at bow at the 4:05 mark. This middle mvt. of Poulenc's Flute Sonata is typical of his light, accessible style.
*French conductor Georges Prêtre champions the works of Poulenc. I’ll never forget a performance in Paris (November 2004) of Poulenc’s Concerto for Two Pianos, selected by Prêtre to be performed on his 80th Birthday concert at the magnificently restored Art Deco masterpiece, the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées. Prêtre owns this piece. Here he conducts the Orchestra National de la RTF with the composer (piano on the left) and Jacques Février (piano on right) in the first movement of the concerto for two pianos.