The articles by Samuel Dorf and Christopher Moore both presented an account of the private and public sexuality of important musical figures in Paris in the 1920s. I gained depth in my knowledge of Francis Poulenc, Princess de Polignac and Satie.
The Moore article offered an analysis of Poulenc’s artistic style based on his involvement in the camp practice. We read about how Poulenc was somewhat more open with his sexuality, as seen in letters written to his lover Richard Chanlaire. Moore uses biographical evidence, as well as musical evidence to support the appearance of camp in Poulenc’s works. He continues to talk about Poulenc’s unique dress for parties.. This translates into “Les Biches”. I found Moore’s musical analyses of the movements in “Les Biches” to be a compelling support for the argument. The ballet revolved around “unconventional sexualities” according to Moore. I was initially skeptical to read too much into the music of Poulenc as portraying ambiguous sexualities because of the caution with which we have tried to separate an artist’s person to their work. However, I think that Moore’s musical examples are particularly convincing. For example, I understood the argument of confused sexuality when Moore discussed the “Rag-Mazurka” and this character’s awkward dress and movement. However, the author further explains sexual ambiguity as seen through the actual music: “Poulenc’s ability to confuse two distinct genres by stitching them together as one creates a hybrid musical entity that defies precise categorization”.
The Dorf article presented an account of the Princess de Polignac as more restrained in her presentation of her sexuality than Poulenc might have been. She distanced herself from Natalie Barney and tried to eliminate sexual references from Plato’s texts in the libretto for Satie’s Socrate. Dorf presented more historical and biographical information in this article to support the argument. Many of the quotes were helpful but I think that the argument could have been more effective if it had used more musical examples. The article also argued that while Polignac and Satie tried very hard to distance themselves from homosexuality, it was still an intricate part of their private lives. This point was argued well because it could be supported easily by biographical evidence.
I found both of these articles compelling in their own way. I was able to gain a more complete knowledge of these artists’ understanding of their own sexuality as well as a perspective about how others saw/see their sexuality from the outside.