The Rascal and the Sparrow

Francis Poulenc found a kindred spirit in Edith Piaf.

By Damian Fowler


Francis Poulenc spent the summer of 1959 at his home in Bagnolsen- Forêt at work on the Gloria, a sacred work scored for soprano, chorus and orchestra. It would become one of the most celebrated pieces from his “mature” period. There he also found the time to compose three smaller works: Fancy for voice and piano (with text from Shakespeare’s “Tell me where is Fancy bred”), the Elégie for two pianos, and the last of fifteen Improvisations for piano. He had started this set of concise, lyrical, sometimes rhapsodic solo piano works back in 1932. And he gave this Improvisation No. 15 in C minor the title “Hommage à Edith Piaf,” a dedication to France’s iconic popular singer, also famously known as “The
Little Sparrow.”...

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