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L'Histoire de Babar, le petit éléphant

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

L'Histoire de Babar, le petit éléphant
Piano music by Francis Poulenc
CatalogueFP 129
Based onHistoire de Babar
by Jean de Brunhoff
Composed1940 (1940)–45
  • narrator
  • piano

L'Histoire de Babar, le petit éléphant (The story of Babar, the little elephant), FP 129, is a composition for narrator and piano by Francis Poulenc, based on Histoire de Babar and written from 1940.


During the summer of 1940, Francis Poulenc stayed with cousins in Brive-la-Gaillarde. The children of the house, bored by his piano playing, put the book Histoire de Babar by Jean de Brunhoff on his piano and asked him to "play" the story.[1] Poulenc obliged and freely improvised around the narrative situations that were proposed to him. In the following years, he often recalled this incident. L'Histoire de Babar was born from his memories.[2]

The score is dedicated to the eleven children who inspired it: "For my little cousins Sophie, Sylvie, Benoît, Florence and Delphine Périer; Yvan, Alain, Marie-Christine and Marguerite-Marie Villotte; And my little friends Marthe Bosredon and André Lecœur, in memory of Brive". It was created in a broadcast on 14 June 1946 played by the composer, assisted by the recitation of Pierre Bernac. In 1962, Jean Françaix proposed an orchestral version of the piece,[2] which satisfied Poulenc.[1] The English composer David Matthews also transcribed it for chamber orchestra.[3]

L'histoire de Babar is one of Francis Poulenc's most popular compositions. According to Guy Sacre, "it is in every respect a success, and one of the most accomplished works he has given to his instrument".[2]


This narrative composition presents itself as an "uninterrupted succession of pianistic images".[2] The most diverse musical forms succeed each other:[4]

  • Elephantine berceuse sung by the mother of Babar (pp. 1–2), whom the latter then recalls with tears (pp. 10)
  • Valse musette of the pastry (pp. 12–13)
  • Babar's wedding march, celebrated by a whole collection of pompous chords (pp. 26–27)
  • Dancing polka played on the evening of the same wedding (pp. 27–29)
  • Final nocturne in the form of a lunar reverie (pp. 30–31)

Selected recordings

A recording of L'Histoire de Babar, le petit éléphant was made in 2012 by Natalie Dessay, narrator and Shani Diluka piano, at éditions Didier Jeunesse [fr].[5]

Other recordings with piano solo include:

Among the recordings for orchestra are:


  1. ^ a b Johnson 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d Sacre 1998, p. 2131.
  3. ^ "Francis Poulenc - L'histoire de Babar, le petit éléphant, melodrama for narrator and piano (or orchestra), FP129 - Classical Archives". Retrieved 2016-12-28.
  4. ^ Schmidt 1995, p. 360.
  5. ^ "Histoire de Babar le petit éléphant par Natalie Dessay, récitante, et Shani Diluka, pianiste du 31 octobre 2012 - France Inter". Retrieved 2016-12-28.
  6. ^ Southon 2014, p. 271.
  7. ^ CD&LP 2016.
  8. ^ Belthoise 2016.
  9. ^ 2016.
  10. ^ BNF 2016.


External links

This page was last edited on 20 August 2019, at 18:52
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