Germaine Tailleferre is mostly remembered as part of the lesser-known half of Les Six, the group of French composers loosely associated with Jean Cocteau in the 1920s. She studied music against the wishes of her father, eventually enrolling in the Paris Conservatoire where she won several prizes as both a pianist and a composer. It was there that she met most of the other members of Les Six.
After a promising early start to her career, Tailleferre faded somewhat from public view; she seldom promoted herself or her work, and her personal life was complicated throughout the 20s and 30s by two unhappy marriages and a series of financial difficulties, culminating in the great disruption of World War II in the 40s. Out of necessity she wrote a great deal on commission.
Her career saw a number of small resurgences over the course of her life, but she never quite regained the standing she had when she was active as a member of Les Six. Although in her later years she suffered from severe rheumatism that made composing difficult, Tailleferre continued to compose and teach until very nearly the end of her life.
Tailleferre's chamber music is the best known part of her corpus of works, including pieces for piano, violin, clarinet, and harp, but she also produced orchestral suites and overtures, several concertos, and a number of vocal works with various accompaniment. She composed a great deal on commission, several short dramatic works and ballets, including a series of four short comic operas at the request of Radio France.
In the 1950s she wrote a substantial amount of music for film and radio which has remained almost totally opaque to performers and scholars alike.
Later in life she became intereted in writing for wind band. She also produced a number of didactic works that presumably sprang from her activities as a teacher.
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