So far in my research the best resources I have found to discern how influential Georges Auric was to French music has been through the words of his nearly lifelong friend, Francis Poulenc. Auric and Poulenc met in 1916. Older than Auric by only a month, Poulenc said Auric “became my spiritual brother.”1 Although this clearly indicates that Poulenc will be rather biased in favor of Auric, I expect that Poulenc had the opportunity to know Auric in a way few others did. Poulenc describes how Auric was able to maintain a level head even when Poulenc himself was not. After a failed performance of Sécheresses, Poulenc describes his reaction to the icy reception of the audience: “I can see myself, on the way out, saying to Auric: ‘Sécheresses will never be performed again, it’s a dud. I’m going to destroy it.’ and Auric, clearsighted as ever, replying ironically: ‘You can destroy your Poemes de Ronsard, or Les Soirees de Nazelle and no harm done, but whatever you do, not this piece.”2
Eventually Poulenc considered this “dud” of a piece to be one of his best works. It is small moments like these that I believe will indicate whether or not Auric was a powerful contributor to “French” music. in this scenario, Auric was able to see past the frustration and embarrassment of a failed performance, and into “les nez” of the French people. This story is one of what I hope are many instances of Auric’s particular attunement to the French people and their music.
1 Poulenc, Francis. Francis Poulenc, Articles and Interviews: Notes from the Heart. Edited by Nicolas Southon and Roger Nichols. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2014.
2 Poulenc, Francis. Francis Poulenc, Articles and Interviews: Notes from the Heart. Edited by Nicolas Southon and Roger Nichols. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2014.