Germaine Tailleferre

1892 - 1983




Born in Paris on April 19th 1892, French composer Germaine Tailleferre began her studies at the Paris Conservatory in 1904, despite her father’s opposition and her equal ability in art. She studied primarily with Eva Sautereau-Meyer. She was a pianistic prodigy with a phenomenal memory for music which led to her winning many prizes. In 1913, she met Auris, Honegger and Milhaud whilst studying in Georges Caussade’s counterpoint class. Eric Satie was so impressed by her 1917 work Jeux de plein air for two pianos that he described her as his ‘musical daughter’, and through this relationship, Tailleferre’s reputation was substantially advanced. When Les Six was formed in 1919-20, she became its only female member. Her abilities at the harpsichord and affinity for the styles of music originally composed for the instrument stood her in excellent stead as the neo-classicism of Stravinsky began to grow in popularity, though her works retained an influence of Fauré and Ravel. 

Unfortunately, Tailleferre’s circumstances in through much of the rest of her life meant that she never gained much of the same acclaim as the other members of Les Six. After two very unhappy marriages, she found her creative energies drained and due to financial issues was almost unable to compose if not for commission, leading to many uneven and quickly composed works. Moreover, her lack of self-esteem and sense of modesty held her back from publicising herself to a fuller extent. In spite of this, some of concerti of the 1930s saw some success and she was often approached to compose for film. Throughout her career she continued to compose music for children which some writers have suggested helped to retain the spontaneity, freshness and charm that characterises her finest works.


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