There’s a plethora of information about Les Six and how they influenced French music, but my question is, how did Germaine function within the group? We know she was the only female member. Many sources will mention dry facts…about their music, its place in history, dates of premieres, etc. But I’d like to know more about Germaine as a person. Was she strong-willed? Shy? A flirt? I know she had two very difficult marriage situations. How did this influence her membership within the group? It’s important to remember that the names thrown around in articles were real people who had personalities and families, not just musical accomplishments (as important as those are).
That being said, while researching to find out more about Tailleferre and her contributions towards French music, I’ll certainly examine broader biographical sources like the book “Les Six: the French Composers and Their Mentors” edited by Robert Shapiro. But primary sources are going to give me the most honest, first-hand insights into Germaine’s life. One example of this was actually in a reading we did for class this week, Milhaud’s “The Evolution of Modern Music in Paris and in Vienna.” 1 A lot is known about the author; he was one of the other members of Les Six and was even the same age as Germaine. His didn’t seem to think that Les Six were that much alike in aesthetics, but instead, it was their friendship that united them. His said that “Tailleferre is a delightful musician…she produces little but each work is remarkably mise au point” (550). He compares her to a young girl and writes more favorably of her than of a few others in the group, for instance, [Durey] “was not yet quite master of his technique when he had to face the public” (550). Interpretations like this are probably as close as we will come to finding out what a co-worker/friend really thought of Germaine and her talents. He presents these ideas when arguing that only diversity and creativity can lead to art that has life. Though Les Six sought to restore the national tradition of France through music, the group was quite diverse, members having varied training and tastes. Milhaud appreciates these differences. Obviously, Tailleferre played an important part in the development of French music in the 20s, but finding nuggets like this will help decipher the more human and emotional side of who Germaine Tailleferre really was.
1 BY, DARIUS MILHAUD. “THE EVOLUTION OF MODERN MUSIC IN PARIS AND IN VIENNA.” The North American Review (1821-1940) 217, no. 809 (04, 1923): 544. http://search.proquest.com/docview/137198526?accountid=351. (Accessed September 28, 2015).