Composer Spotlight: Germaine Tailleferre

Composer Spotlight Germaine Tailleferre


Spotlight on Arabesque

Sonia Sielaff, the Orchestra’s Sub-Principal Clarinet, says: ‘I was delighted to come across the music of Germaine Tailleferre during my months at home in lockdown. Arabesque is a short but sweet piece written for clarinet and piano, and its serene melody was borrowed from Tailleferre’s own opera, La Petite Sirène. It is truly a joy to play and listen to, and I could hear the influence her friendships with Ravel and other French composers and artists had on her music.’



Having composed from a young age until a few weeks before her death, Germaine Tailleferre’s (1892–1983) extraordinarily long career traces a significant path across the development of French music in the twentieth century. She studied at the Paris Conservatoire alongside composers Francis Poulenc and Darius Milhaud, becoming part of a group known as ‘The Six’, which spearheaded new variations in modernist music that moved away from many of the persevering traditions of late Romanticism and impressionism. Gaining the attention of Erik Satie while at the Conservatoire and working closely with Maurice Ravel in the 1920s, she also moved more than once to the United States, the second occasion being to escape from the outbreak of the Second World War. Noted for her love of melody and favouring a warm tonality, compositions for ballet, opera and orchestra accompany her vast legacy of chamber works, in addition to her prolific scoring for film.


More music to explore…

Listen out for her Cantate de Narcisse for choir and orchestra, Sonata per violino e pianoforte Nos.1 & 2, and Rêverie for solo piano.

Hear Germaine Tailleferre’s Arabesque in our Spotlight Series at Home: Wind concert on Thursday 11 March from 6pm on our YouTube channel.

Discover other composers featured in the Spotlight Series here.