Francis Jean Marcel Poulenc (; 7 January 189930 January 1963) was a French composer and pianist. His works included ''mélodies'', solo piano music, chamber music, choral music, operas, ballets, and orchestral concert music.
Born into a prosperous family, Poulenc was destined for a business career, and was not allowed to enroll at a music college. Largely self-educated musically he came under the influence of Erik Satie, under whose tutelage he became one of a group of young composers known collectively as ''Les Six''. In his early works Poulenc became known for his high spirits and irreverence. During the 1930s a much more serious side to his nature emerged, particularly in the religious music he started composing from 1936 onwards.
In addition to composing, Poulenc was an accomplished pianist, and was particularly known for his performing partnerships with the baritonePierre Bernac and the sopranoDenise Duval, touring in Europe and America with both, and making many recordings. He was among the first composers to see the importance of the gramophone, and he recorded extensively from 1928 onwards.
In his later years, and for many years after his death, Poulenc's reputation as a composer, particularly in his native country, was frequently that of a humorous lightweight, and his religious music was often overlooked. During the 21st century more attention has been given to his serious works, with many new productions of ''Dialogues des Carmélites'' and '' La Voix humaine'' worldwide, and numerous live and recorded performances of his choral music.