Both articles offer compelling analyses of two different composers, Erik Satie and Francis Poulenc, through queer perspectives. To me, the Dorf article is more of a stretch, in terms of attributing a lesbian aesthetic to Satie’s music, but I think Dorf recognizes and acknowledges this. For example, he states on page 96 that, “obviously, Socrate is not an overtly sexual work, let alone an overtly homoerotic work,” but goes on to emphasize the hidden eroticism of the piece. Dorf continues on page 97 of the article, “it is not always what is said, but sometimes more importantly, what is not said. It is what this invocation of Archaic Greece could mean to the listener, and for many in Polignac’s circle, a veiled lesbian eroticism lies at its core” (Dorf, p. 97). I think this statement is a pretty reasonable summary of Dorf’s thesis, and I have few qualms with it, but to me, the quote also represents my main concern with the article which is its lack of focus on Satie’s composition/contribution to the work. Dorf talks a lot about Polignac’s circle throughout the article, and discusses her desire to set a reading of Socrates to music, and the implications therein, all interesting (if a bit too speculative) but I wanted to hear more about Satie’s composition through the queer lens, as indicated by the “lesbian aesthetic.”
Moore’s article, in my opinion, perhaps in part due to its length, was much more substantial in providing evidence of Poulenc’s contribution to a queer musical aesthetic. Moore focuses on a series of ambiguous dichotomies which parallel and prove Poulenc’s inherent ambiguity within the queer culture of Paris, known as camp. Using two of Poulenc’s works as examples, Moore establishes Poulenc as a prototypical example of camp, based on his “anxiously concealed,” and “socially fraught sexual identity.” Moore’s most effective arguments are Poulenc’s “robbery” of other composers’ music in helping conceal his own identity, the sexual ambiguity of the “Hostess” portrayed by his “Rag Mazurka,” and Poulenc’s use of the adjective “amphibious” in describing his Aubade in establishing his own existence somewhere within the dichotomy of gender. The Hostess at the party portrayed in Les Biches, Moore claims, is masterfully depicted as gender-confused by the genre-confusion of Poulenc’s “Rag Mazurka.” Lastly, Poulenc’s “amphibious” Aubade is best described as representing Poulenc’s own confusion between “the straight (dry) public world of the virtuoso pianist and the world of his unspeakable (wet) gay desire” (Moore, p. 322).
While both articles present interesting perspectives on select works of Satie and Poulenc, respectively, Moore offers a more convincing and definitive representation of a queer reading of music history. His comprehensive analysis of Poulenc’s two works, Les Biches and Aubade, as well as his description of the societal context Poulenc found himself in, support a strong argument regarding Poulenc’s music directly.