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Georges Auric: Georges Auric (b. Lodeve, 15 Feb, 1899).
Composer, critic, administrator and elder statesman of French music, Georges Auric is the most prominent surviving member of Les Six, the group of lively young Paris-based musicians, who, animated by Jean Cocteau, caused such a stir in the 1920s. Born in Lodeve in Herault in 1899, he attended Montpellier Conservatoire and later, when his family moved to Montmartre, became a pupil of Vincent d'Indy at the Schola Cantorum and of Gedalge at the Conservatoire - like Durey, Tailleferre, Milhaud, Honegger and Georges Auric's exact contemporary Poulenc. 1913 saw the introduction of this gifted, self-assured youth to Satie, who was to prove a major influence on his early development. That Cocteau should have dedicated his manifesto, Coq et Arlequin (1918) to him was significant. Georges Auric became the standard bearer of Les Six in their spirited reaction against romantic rhetoric, porten-tousness and also Impressionism.
An urbane, witty and fashionable iconoclast, he was taken up by Diaghilev for whom he wrote Les Fdcheux (1923) and Les Matelots (1924). Those scores, together with his Sonatine, Pastorales and Impromptus for piano and his song settings of Chalupt, Cocteau, de Nerval and Louise de Vilmorin gave the impression of a pragmatic musical personality, rather facile, and given to conciseness, irony and an appearance of artistic flippancy.
Beneath the elegant, impersonal mask however another Georges Auric was emerging, as demonstrated in his lyrically powerful Piano Sonata in F (1932). This was a breakaway from the simplistic austerity advocated by the orthodox aesthetic of Les Six and even won the approval of Cortot, normally no friend to their activities. Unfortunately, the sonata's hostile critical reception discouraged Georges Auric from pursuing 'pure' music systematically, and in general his orchestral and chamber music (including his trio for oboe, clarinet and bassoon and his violin sonata) is incidental to his major creative pre-occupation. This was to be music for the stage and especially for the screen. Between the early 1930s and the 1950s, his film scores, of which he claims to have lost count, set a new standard of professionalism, imagination and idiomatic agility. Once again however it was Cocteau who inspired the finest results, in Le Sang d'un poete, I'Eternel Retour, la Belle et la Bete and Orphee. Other outstanding scores included A nous la liberte, Symphonie Pastorale and I'Aigle a deux teles.
In Moulin Rouge he even managed to write a theme song which swept the world.
Meanwhile Georges Auric's ballet scores for Le Peintre et son mddele and Phedre in 1949 and 1950 indicated the new dimensions of dramatic expression and even violence towards which he was gravitating. His perspectives had broadened to embrace serialism as well as other contemporary trends, proof of which came in his high-tension tripartite Partita for two pianos. The mock-dissonant grimaces and relaxed tunefulness of the 20s had been left far behind.
It remains to cite Georges Auric's critical work for Marianne, Paris-Soir, Les Nouvelles litteraires and, during the war, the Nouvelle Revue francaise, his presidency of the Lamoureux concerts, his six years as General Administrator of the Paris Opera and his election to the Academie des Beaux-Arts.
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