The Frederick and Rose Plaut Papers consist of over 35,000 photographs taken by Frederick Plaut during his years as a recording engineer for Columbia Records. Francis Poulenc was a dear friend of Rose Plaut – this photograph was taken during a trip to France.
Poulenc was a composer of the Parisian avant-garde. His work exhibits a fascination with evocations of the distant past, as well as the primitive. His first piece, Rapsodie nègre (1917), draws upon an exotic African theme – much in vogue in Paris at the time. The piece consists of five movements:
- Honoloulou – Vocal interlude
The third movement, Honoloulou, is set to a poetic text purportedly by Liberian poet Makoko Kangourou in a language of nonsense syllables. The book in which Poulenc found the text has never been located, and the Liberian poet was almost certainly a hoax. Poulenc himself stated that, “The Rapsodie nègre is not an exotic or picturesque work: it is simply a work of free melody.”
-Allie Kieffer and Emily Ferrigno
Listen to “Honoloulou”, played by Francis Poulenc, Hugues Cuenod, tenor
Read more about Poulenc’s Rapsodie nègre.