The Story of Babar
I wanted to do a project for my grandchildren. After much thought, I decided performing Poulenc’s The Story of Babar would do nicely. I’d always admired Poulenc’s Babar music, and think it contains some of his best material. My only disappointment with Babar was that Poulenc used an abridged version of the story. I always wondered what other great music we missed out on because Poulenc didn’t do the whole thing.
Then I had a crazy thought. “I’m a composer. Why don’t I just fill in the bits Poulenc didn’t do? That will make the gift of the Babar story that much more personal and special !”
If I hadn’t been thinking about who is was for, I’d have thought about it too much and would never have had the courage to put my music side by side with Poulenc’s. Fortunately, I just naively pressed ahead and intimidation never set in.
I didn’t try to imitate Poulenc in any way. I just wrote as I naturally would. The result holds up just fine, I think. And Poulenc’s music and mine go together surprisingly well. (Considering how much I love his music, and what an influence he’s been, maybe not so surprising?)
The resulting music is about 50% Poulenc and 50% me. If you’re not already familiar with the Poulenc, and are curious who wrote what, here’s a breakdown showing the composer for each scene:
Poulenc Babar is born 00:25 digging in the sand 02:08 riding on his mother’s back 02:47 Babar’s mother is shot 03:50 Babar runs away 04:10 Cording the city and two gentlemen 04:53 Poulenc the Old Lady gives Babar her purse 06:18 riding the elevator 08:00 the Floor Manager 08:50 buying clothes 10:01 having a picture taken 10:40 dining with the Old Lady 12:02 going to sleep 12:46 Poulenc exercise and bath 13:35 riding in the car 14:42 Cording lessons 15:03 stories of life in the forest 16:31 Poulenc Babar remembers his mother 17:22 buying Arthur and Celeste clothes 18:28 the pastry shop 19:09 Arthur and Celeste’s mothers are worried 19:55 the old stork returns with news 20:27 mothers scold Arthur and Celeste 20:45 Cording packing the trunk 21:09 saying goodbye 21:54 Poulenc leaving for the forest in the car 23:01 the Old Lady misses Babar 23:39 the King of the elephants eats a bad mushroom 25:09 Cording the three oldest elephants have a meeting 26:21 Babar arrives at the forest 27:35 Cornelius speaks 28:22 Poulenc
Babar accepted as King 30:05 birds invite animals to wedding 31:01 guests arrive 31:33 the marriage and coronation of Babar 32:24 dancing 33:50 after the party 34:33 Cording leaving in a balloon for the honeymoon 36:10 Poulenc the end 37:48
The bold items are my favorite Poulenc sections.
The entire story is about 38 minutes, so settle in before giving a listen.
Listen to: The Story of Babar..