Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Creative Arts


School of Music

Committee Chair

Peter Amstutz

Committee Co-Chair

Andrew Kohn

Committee Member

James Miltenberger

Committee Member

William Haller

Committee Member

Bernard Schultz


Les Six, formally established in 1920, included a group of young French composers: Georges Auric (1899-1983), Louis Durey (1888-1979), Arthur Honegger (1892-1955), Darius Milhaud (1892-1974), Francis Poulenc (1899-1963) and Germaine Tailleferre (1892-1983). The primary motivation for their formation was the reaction against foreign influences, especially German Romantic music, in French music. Jean Cocteau, inspired by Erik Satie’s style, proposed a new French musical aesthetic: simplicity, directness, clarity, and terseness. Les Six followed these ideals in their formative years. Their artistic association was short-lived, but while it lasted it produced Album des Six, their sole joint production, a published six-piece piano set, in 1920. The works in the Album were primarily composed as independent pieces between 1914 and 1920, and were deliberately assembled to symbolize Les Six as a coherent group in 1920. However, the group was never cohesive. Durey’s refusal to contribute music for Les mariés de la tour Eiffel, Cocteau’s ballet, in 1921 began the disintegration of their association.

This treatise examines Album des Six from a pedagogical perspective. Album des Six not only demonstrates the youthful styles of the composers, but also offers an engaging and effective pedagogical work. While furthering a Cocteau-Satie vision of nationalism, this set also reflects its composers’ appreciation of the achievement of other then prominent Parisian composers such as Debussy and Stravinsky. This variety of influences demonstrates the richness of this concise collection.

The central component of this treatise is the discussion of Album des Six in chapter 3. In order to establish the groundwork for the discussion, this treatise briefly synthesizes the following components: Erik Satie and his piano works; Parisian cultural atmosphere; the Cocteau-Satie association and Cocteau’s manifesto. The treatise concludes by highlighting important elements of the Satie-Cocteau aesthetics in the Album.