Both readings by Dorf on Princesse Edmond de Polignac and Satie’s Socrate and Moore on Poulenc provide very interesting hypotheses and insights on sexuality in music. While I think that Moore clearly gives a more successful argument on his case, his topic of study on Poulenc has more research advantages than Dorf’s does. These research advantages and differences between topics manifest themselves in many ways. To begin with, Moore’s study subject, Poulenc, is a composer himself, who exposed his sexuality in friend circle and correspondence. Poulenc’s homosexuality is an “open secret”, according to Moore. In his article, Moore is able to draw evidence from letters and visual elements from Les Biches, which are straightforward and clear. Princesse Edmond de Polignac, on the other hand, is a careful and restrictive aristocratic patroness who would even avoid acquaintance of certain people to control and maintain her social image. To talk about the Princesse and Satie’s Socrate, Dorf employs a methodological combination of verbal material (letters) analysis and personal reasoning.
There is a two-fold juxtaposition of difference between Poulenc and the Princesse: personality and identity. We not only see a contrast between Poulenc’s “open secret” attitude and the Princesse’s hide-away but also understand that one holds the power to speak for himself in his music while the other as patroness does not create original music herself. This originality of expression of course is very essential in arguing and determining whether one has implanted his or her sexuality in the music composition.
Dorf catches this issue of originality of expression and understands that lacking proofs of it may critically reduce the credibility of his argument on Socrate. To solve this concern, he argues that Princesse Edmond de Polignac participated substantially in the composition process of Socrate. However, his evidences are not consistently convincing to me. I found it his observation very compelling that all the sexual-related text from Plato’s original work has been deleted and excised. The libretto of Socrate is clear of sexual reference. While the libretto composition sounds very purposeful and deliberate, Dorf fails to persuade me when he makes a step further to argue that such clean text libretto is the patroness of Socrate, Princesse Edmond de Polignac’s idea. He does not give grounded evidence that Princesse Edmond de Polignac has worked on libretto with Satie. Several dinners between the Princesse and the composer can not directly prove how influential the patroness is on actual composition.