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interesting music for French program?

I'm helping plan a concert of French music (SATB choir a cappella or with piano)
Looking for something interesting and unusual (we know Faure, Debussy, Charpentier, madrigals, etc)
Maybe something *about* France by a non-native composer?
Any ideas gratefully received!
Replies (17): Threaded | Chronological
on February 15, 2011 2:15pm
Less well known are two interesting pieces by Massenet, "Chères Fleurs" and "Chantez"  (Alliance Music, I think).  Chantez is very exciting.  And two by Saint-Saens, "Calme des nuits" and "Les fleurs et les arbres." 
on February 15, 2011 3:36pm
There are some cool pieces by Lili Boulanger, sister of the famous Nadia, such as
Also the Baroque composer Michel-Richard de Lalande (spelling varies: Delalande, De la Lande, etc.) wrote some fantastic "grand motets" (comparable scale and difficulty to Bach cantatas), if you don't mind doing a piano reduction of orchestral accompaniment. I particularly like his "Confitebor tibi Domine" and "Super flumina". If you're looking for something shorter, the Requiem finale to his his "De profundis" is to die for.
Mozart sometimes wrote in French (the original lyrics to "Twinkle twinkle" are "ah, vous dirai-je, Maman"), and so did Orlando di Lasso (e.g. La Nuit froide et sombre), although of course there were plenty of French Renaissance composers. Stravinsky spent quite a bit of time in France: Les Noces is one result, although that's probably more ambitious than you're looking for.
on February 15, 2011 6:45pm
How about Les Chansons des Roses by Lauridson which is a set of songs in French, fairly difficult but beautiful. There is also in English Madame Jeanette by Lyn Murray. in Englsih and not too long and rather easy.
Erwin Petri 
on February 15, 2011 7:31pm
There is quite a lot of French baroque music (Lully, Rameau, etc.).  In addition, I am quite fond of Janequin's onomotopoeic (sp?) program chansons.  "Le chant des oiseaux" and "La guerre" come to mind.
on February 16, 2011 9:18am
French a cappella music exists  but is rather like hen's teeth!
I'd nevertheless endorse the references to Lili Boulanger, to Massenet and to Saint-Saens.  You seem to know already about Fauré's Lydia; and the Debussy Charles d'Orleans settings.  Poulenc and Ravel have written sets of music, in Poulenc's case both sacred and secular (Six chansons...).  Ropartz - entirely neglected - has a set of Six Chansons Bourbonnais.
Pierre Villette's music could do with exposure - a Hyperion cd has a good selection of his sacred pieces.
In cross-cultural terms (!), apart from the Lauridsen set of Chansons des Roses, Hindemith set six poems by Rilke - who was writing in French!  And the American composer Julian Wachner has performed a similar service (there's a cd on Naxos).
Best of luck.  I look forward to a host of references - could do with them here.
roly brown, france
on February 16, 2011 11:47am
I'm glad you asked!  I recently had two works premiered on a concert of/about France.  One, Love Always!, for SATB and soprano sax, sets a translation of Victor Hugo's famous love poem  "Aimons toujours!"
The other, Waltzes About France, is for SATB and jazz quartet (tenor sax/piano/bass/drums), and sets two poems about France, one by the English poet Barry Cornwall, and the other by me.
These aren't up on my website yet, but if you contact me at the address below, I can send you sample score PDFs, performance MP3s, etc.
All best!
Jonathan Santore
on February 16, 2011 5:00pm
Dear Kate,
I have the following programme for a "French Connection"concert in the UK in October:
Messe a trios voix                                  Caplet    written for SSA and TTB. Delicious!                                                               
Pater Peccavi                                       Crequillon Renaissance 8-part
Ave Verum                                              Poulenc
Nesciens Mater                                       Mouton Renaissance 8-part
Notre Pere                                               Durufle
Ave Maria                                                Josquin           
Cantique de Jean Racine                      Fauré           
Il est bel et bon                                       Passereau Fast, furious and fun
El Grillo                                                   Josquin        as above    
Four Motets                                              Duruflé
Le chant des oiseaux                              Janequin
Panis Angelicus Op 80                          Villette
La chasse: gentilz veneurs                    Janequin
Or vien ca                                                Janequin 
Gloria                                                       Poulenc
Obviously, the Poulenc Gloria and Cantique are accompanied.
Hope that's helpful,
Peter Gambie
The Renaissance Choir; Southampton Choral Society
on February 16, 2011 9:00pm
Milhaud: Les Deux Cites
Messiaen: Cinq rechants (12 voices)
Poulenc: Sept Chansons
on February 16, 2011 9:56pm
on February 17, 2011 1:07pm
Les Djinns by Fauré
or Hymn to St. Martin of Tours (Breviarium Romanum) in Latin-
both of which are free to download, but subject to notification by email if being performed.
on February 17, 2011 9:41pm
Please consider checking out my newly published arrangement of "Beau Soir" by Debussy, ECS Publishing No. 7689. Thank you for your consideration.
Stanley M. Hoffman
on February 17, 2011 11:58pm
Two pieces by John Biggs:
From Consort Press:

CP 2 "BON JOUR, MON COEUR"  (Text in French & English) SATB acappella  2.5min. $1.50

From Theodore Presser:

312-40525 "IL COURT, LE FURET" (French folk song) SSA acappella, 1.5 mnin., French & English, price unknown


See composer bio here:




on February 18, 2011 1:13am
on February 20, 2011 12:21am
If you can do accompanied works ... the Stabat Mater of Francis Poulenc is one of the most stunning of all French choral works.  Might be OK with the piano reduction in the full vocal score.  The Gloria of Poulenc was mentioned above ... that does work well with just piano. 
on February 20, 2011 4:45am
Want something fun with an upbeat tempo.  Try J'tends Moulin by Patriquin (Earthsongs)  Has some percussion accompaniment as well.  Need a good accompanist. 
on February 20, 2011 7:53am
While on the subject, I need a simple round in French that can be sung by a combined 6/7/8 small chorus and a HS SATB group.  Basic and beautiful is what I'm looking for.  Ideas?
on February 20, 2011 9:12pm
Frère Jacques?
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