Stéphane Denève

The two faces of Francis Poulenc


  • Francis Poulenc Litanies à la Vierge Noire
  • Francis Poulenc Stabat Mater
  • Francis Poulenc Les biches

Stéphane Denève, the new permanent guest conductor of the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, is (also) a Poulenc specialist. He highlights both the joyful and the serious side of his compatriot.

The playful 1920s ballet Les biches
Clown and monk. These are the two faces of Francis Poulenc. The heir to a large pharmaceutical concern, he enjoyed a carefree childhood and received private education. As early as 1921, Poulenc was just 22 years old, Sergei Diaghilev asked him to provide a score for a ballet. The composer himself came up with the title: Les biches (The Darlings). An exuberant ballet without a story, laced with the necessary sexual connotations.

Poulenc as a choral composer
Poulenc underwent a profound change in 1936, when his close friend, the composer Pierre-Octave Ferroud, died horribly in a car accident. Poulenc visited the shrine of the Black Virgin of Rocamadour and began composing the Litanies à la Vierge noire that same evening. Spiritual works would play a leading role in his oeuvre from then on, the highlights being the Gloria and the Stabat Mater. Stéphane Denève is not only the RFO's new permanent guest conductor, he is also chief conductor of the American St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, where "our" Hans Vonk served until his retirement from the podium.

Saturday, October 21, 2023
The Royal Concertgebouw

Large Hall


Radio Philharmonic Orchestra
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Stéphane Denève
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Netherlands Radio Choir
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Liv Redpath
Benjamin Goodson - Photo: Paolo Ferla
Benjamin Goodson
Choir conductor
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