Sunday, November 29, 2009

NO JOY - Michele Legrand's GENEVIEVE was 90

You've heard of Michel Legrand...well, somebody had to tutor him on the finer points of the piano, and that was Genevieve Joy (and also Nadia Boulanger...he studied at the Paris Conservatoire for nine years!)

That's about as close to the world of "popular" music as she got, which is why her death was not well covered. Genevieve (October 4, 1919-November 27, 2009) died in her sleep in a Paris hospital.

In the classical world, she's known for her partnerships with pianist Jacqueline Robin and composer-husband Henri Dutilleux. She was such an influence on Henri, that he composed a piano sonata during the first years of their marriage (1946-1948) and he considered it Opus #1, deciding that anything he wrote earlier was not worthy.

Oddly enough, he didn't exactly follow it up with a lot of other piano pieces for her to perform. This was fine with him: ""She never reproached me for not writing more for the piano, and never tried to influence me on that score."

Others, including Darius Milhaud and Andre Jolivet, composed music for Genevieve Joy and her musical partner Jacqueline Robin. Over many decades, they entertained audiences with dual-piano concerts. Genevieve also recorded solo work for the Erato label, and had her regular teaching work at the Paris Conservatoire. Michel Legrand was by far her most famous student, creating Oscar-winning soundtracks to dozens of films and writing "Windmills of Your Mind" among many other hits.

As you might expect from a 20th Century classical composition, Dutilleux's piano sonata is not purely romantic, even if the inspiration was his wife. The piece explores the delights, both intellectual, physical and spiritual, of the union. In other words, on listening to this you might get the idea that Genevieve was a pretty complicated chick. She recorded the piece, so she must've agreed. Husband Henri, 88, survives her.

Go ahead, download some 20th Century classical piano from Genevieve and Henri. Challenging music didn't begin and end with Zappa.

1 comment:

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