Dorf and Moore’s articles are interesting to say the least. Their arguments surround the topic of how a person’s sexuality impacts the music he or she composes or performs. I can’t help but look at their writings with very skeptical lenses. I knew that Poulenc was gay and that many other artists in Paris during the twenties were homosexuals. However, even after reading Dorf and Moore’s reflections, I am still unconvinced.
Moore goes into great detail of Poulenc’s personal life and how his colleagues went to great lengths to hide his homosexuality. I agree with Moore that certain themes in his works such as the crossdressing, found in Les Biches, may reflect a characteristic of Poulenc’s life. It’s the argument that the sound itself emulates Poulenc’s sexual orientation that I leave still questioning. Moore effectively expresses how plot points in Poulenc’s works symbolize Poulenc’s personal life. On the other hand, Moore doesn’t convince me that by listening to Poulenc’s music you can tell that he was gay.
Dorf speaks of Princesse Edmond de Polignac lesbianism and how her sexuality drove what she wanted to see and hear in compositions. Still, I see the same issue in Dorf’s writing that I saw in Moore’s article. Dorf uses examples such as the use of girls playing pageboys or other “Sapphonic” traits in musical productions. Again, I agree that the Princesse’s lesbianism is shown in the choices she made in her requests and guidelines. In my opinion Dorf does little to prove that the music the Princesse requests for “sounds” Sapphonic. Dorf does try to prove that, but it is written in a way that is both confusing and far fetched.
I agree wholeheartedly that a person’s sexuality may impact the composition and performance process. It is the act of listening to a piece and knowing right off the bat whether or not the composer was homosexual or not that I am still in disagreement with.