LOUIS DUREY (1888 - 1979)
Strongly influenced by Debussy’s opera Pelléas et Mélisande, Louis Durey joined the informal Groupe des Six, the six young French composers under the influence of Satie and Cocteau, but soon took a divergent course that allowed increasing scope for his political affiliations. He was secretary general of the Fédération Musicale Populaire and later of the Association Française des Musiciens Progressistes.
Durey’s music for the theatre includes the incidental music Chant des partisans coréens (‘Song of the Korean Partisans’), among other works.
Durey wrote a Concertino for piano, wind instruments, double bass and timpani, a Mouvement symphonique for piano and strings, and a string Sinfonietta, as well as a Fantaisie concertante for cello, among other relatively large-scale compositions.
Chamber music by Durey includes a Flute Sonatina, a String Trio and Les Soirées de Vallère for wind quintet, in addition to his three string quartets.
Vocal and Choral Music
Durey’s political affiliations are clear from his setting of two poems by Ho-Chi-Minh and the choral La Longuemarche, with words by Mao Tse Tung. There are notable settings of poems by Apollinaire, Eluard and Cocteau, among the first Le Bestiaire (‘The Bestiary’) and, with words by Cocteau, Le Printemps au fond de la mer (‘Spring at the Bottom of the Sea’).
Durey wrote Carillons and Neige (‘Snow’) for piano duet, three sonatinas, and Obsession (later orchestrated).