Yvonne Desportes (1907-1993) French composer, born in Germany. Her father was a composer too, and one of her sons became a professional percussionist (she wrote many pieces for him e.g. her Concerto for percussion and orchestra, one of the first in the genre).
Desportes studied composition at the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique in Paris, in the famous class of Paul Dukas – her classmates were Barraine, Duruflé, Arrieu, Messiaen and other celebrities to be. Later in life, she returned to her alma mater as a teacher in composition-related subjects, and many later French composers were taught by her. Desportes is also the author of ca 30 textbooks in music.
As soon as she started her studies she started winning competitions in disciplines like harmony and fugue writing, and in 1932 she won the prestigious Prix de Rome after four years of climbing the ranks.
From her output we can today harvest 159 vocal works and 332 instrumental – from traditional instrument combinations to works for e.g. the sitar! Most instruments can find trios, quartets, sextets etc. for themselves (e.g. her trombone trio and her clarinet sextet).
We also have three symphonies, eight operas, a requiem and much more.
She has a flair for amusing and imaginative titles e.g. La naissance d’un papillon for solo clarinet, La foire aux crouûes for percussion and piano, or thought-provoking subtitles like for her symphony no 3 L’Éternel féminin.
Desportes’ music is varied both between the different pieces but also within each piece which makes it really interesting to listen to, especially for ears that are not trained in focused listening (hello outreach projects). One moment she will go deeply down in the atonal world, just to suddenly burst out in Dixieland, a nursery rhyme or Chinese traditional music.
Above mentioned La foire aux croûtes is fun!
Her most played piece today must be Suite Italienne for four clarinets
Listen to Two serenades for two trombones and a tuba here
(Also curious to hear some day: Imageries d’antan for brass quintet, Chambery for oboe and organ, and Serenade exotique for wind octet)
Have a listen to en excerpt of her Symphony no 3 here.
A very long but not completely complete works list can be found here.