Jacob, Max (1876-1944)

Max Jacob

born: 12 July 1876
died: 5 March 1944
country: France

The poet Max Jacob (1876–1944), the son of a Jewish tailor, was born in Quimper in Britanny—a very Catholic and almost mystically superstitious area of France, at least in those days. Right from the start he felt both deracinated by, and attracted to, the mysticism and folklore of his natal region. In his twenties he came to Paris and became close friends with Picasso and Apollinaire, who were fascinated by his endless verbal dexterity and sense of fantasy; Jacob, also an able painter, became very much part of the Bateau-Lavoir community. In 1909 he claimed that Christ appeared to him in a vision and he converted to Christianity. Jacob’s Le laboratoire central (1921) was the source of Poulenc’s cantata for voice and orchestra, Le bal masqué (FP60), probably the composer’s most phantasmagorical work. Poulenc was often deemed a combination of moine and voyou (monk and ragamuffin); Max Jacob was much more so, and to a degree that was almost dazzlingly bizarre. Poet and composer got on exceedingly well. Jacob retreated to a life in contemplation outside Paris in Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire (1921–7), returning to Paris for ten years (during which period Poulenc’s first Jacob settings, Breton in inspiration, were composed), before returning in 1937 to his retreat, where he is buried. Convinced he would die a martyr, Jacob was arrested by the Gestapo at the end of February 1944 and died nine days later, of bronchial pneumonia, at the notorious holding camp of Drancy.

from notes by Graham Johnson 2013


Poulenc: The Complete Songs
CDA68021/44CDs for the price of 3
Poulenc: The Complete Songs, Vol. 1
Studio Master: SIGCD247Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Poulenc: The Complete Songs, Vol. 4
Studio Master: SIGCD323Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

Alphabetical listing of all musical works

Chanson bretonne  
Cinq poèmes de Max Jacob, FP59 (Poulenc)
J’ai perdu ma poulette  
Jouer du bugle  
La petite servante  
Les trois dames qui jouaient du bugle  
M’as-tu connu marchand d’journaux  
Parisiana, FP157 (Poulenc)
Préservez-nous du feu et du tonnerre  
Si mon marin vous le chassez  
Souric et Mouric  
Ton père est à la messe  
Vous n'écrivez plus?