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Work

Various Composers Composer

Les Maries de la Tour Eiffel, ballet ("The Wedding on the Eiffel Tower")

Performances: 2
Tracks: 28
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Musicology (work in progress):
  • Les Maries de la Tour Eiffel, ballet ("The Wedding on the Eiffel Tower")
    Year: 1921
    • Ouverture. Le 14 juillet (Georges Auric)
    • Marche nuptiale (Darius Milhaud)
    • Discours du général. Polka pour deux cornets à pistons (Francis Poulenc)
    • La Baigneuse de Trouville. Carte postale en couleurs (Francis Poulenc)
    • Fuge du massacre (Darius Milhaud)
    • Valse des dépêches (Germaine Tailleferre)
    • Marche funèbre (Arthur Honegger)
    • Quadrille. Pantalon - Été - Poule - Pastourelle - Final (Germaine Tailleferre)
    • Ritournelles (Georges Auric)
    • Sortie de la noce (Darius Milhaud)
    • Auric: Ouverture (14 Juillet)
    • Texte 1
    • Milhaud: Marche nuptiale
    • Texte 2
    • Poulenc: Discours du Général (Polka)
    • Texte 3
    • Poulenc: La Baigneuse de Trouville
    • Texte 4
    • Milhaud: La Fugue du Massacre
    • Texte 5
    • Tailleferre: La Valse des Dépéchés
    • Texte 6
    • Honegger: Marche funèbre
    • Texte 7
    • Tailleferre: Quadrille
    • Auric: Ritournelles
    • Texte 8
    • Milhaud: Sortie de la Noce
This is a historically famous work, but one more often encountered in music history books than on concert or theatrical stages. One is much more likely to hear individual parts of it in the context of other music by its five composers.

In 1917, the French literary figure Jean Cocteau, seeking to promote modernism in arts, literature, and music, wrote newspaper articles announcing the formation of a group of composers he called "Les Six," The Six, a term designed to evoke the Russian nationalist group known in the West as "The Russian Five." While there was a time that the young Paris-based composers worked and lived together, they really weren't united by much more than an initial general esthetic and philosophical idea. In short, "Les Six" was more a result of press agentry than a genuine movement. The group started falling apart almost immediately; Louis Drury left the group in 1920, virtually disappearing. The remaining five all contributed some incidental music to a nonsensical play by Cocteau called Les mariés de la Tour Eiffel, or "The Newlyweds on the Eiffel Tower." What story there is is briefly summarized: The new couple have a wedding breakfast on Bastille Day (July 14) at a table on one of the platforms of the famous tower. A guest makes a pompous speech. When a humpbacked photographer bids everyone to "watch the birdie," it appears that a telegraph office suddenly springs into existence on the platform. A lion comes in and eats one of the guests for breakfast and a strange figure called "a child of the future" appears and kills everybody. Overture: Le 14 Juillet is by Georges Auric. Military drums and trumpet fanfares picture the traditional pomp of the Republic's main historic holiday. Then busy, cherry figures suggest a kind of silent movie wackiness. Barely into his twenties, Francis Poulenc was the only composer to contribute two numbers to the suite. Discourse du général is the pompous speech, while a brief number featuring solo trumpet, La baigneuse de Trouville (The Bather of Trouville), surrounds a pretty and sentimental tune with a sort of updated Offenbachian gallop. Germaine Tailleferre writes a graceful Valse des depeches. It has a brassy carnival spirit and an infectious tune. The most serious-minded of Les Six at the time, Swiss Arthur Honegger, marks the cast's demise in a Marche funebre. Chromatic figures in woodwinds are a kind of mock wailing, but a violin solo hints at real feelings. Satire prevails in the raucous orchestration of the central portion of the movement. Somehow, there is a concluding movement called Sortie de la Nice (Departure for Nice). Composed by Darius Milhaud, this is a virtually meaningless and noisy brass flourish that barely suffices to end the suite. The obvious throw-away attitude Milhaud had when composing, it is a clear sign of the impending end of Les Six as anything other than a convenient grouping for the history texts.

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