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  • Writer's pictureIñaki Encina Oyón

When the world thought that men were better at writing poems

Updated: Apr 29, 2021

Iñaki Encina Oyón sheds light on a mysterious French poet

Two of my favourite songs in our recording of French mélodies by Robert Dussaut are composed on poems of a certain Jean Maddus: L’Oracle and Adieux à l’étranger. Adriana González delivers these texts with exquisite taste, and during our preparation for the recording she confessed that she felt very connected to the poems as they are about two women. The first one asks an oracle about the true feelings of her lover, only to learn that he indeed loves her; the second one describes with sensuality the desire that a woman feels for a mysterious stranger, advising him to love a bit in return the one who loves him so much.

Before even considering doing a recording of these songs, there was the idea of editing this music, music that only existed in manuscript form and was kept by the daughter of the composer. Thérèse Dussaut, as the composer’s only child, is the natural heir of the music her father wrote, and possesses the rights to it. But obviously, she holds no rights to the poems, since the author was not her father but somebody else. So, when embarking upon a recording, one of the first things you do is to check the dates of the author to see whether the texts are in the public domain, or if permission has to be requested from the family of the author or, as the case may be, from the rights holder. And here we experienced our first surprise: Jean Maddus does not, nor ever did exist. Apparently, none of his poetry has ever been published, and his birth and death certificates are nowhere to be found.

This question had to remain open for the time being, since there were other poems to be taken care of. Then, one day, while perusing the countless scores at Thérèse Dussaut’s apartment in Paris, I came across three other songs on poems by Jean Maddus: two by Rhené-Baton and one by Edmond Filipucci. These scores where part of Robert Dussaut’s personal collection that Thérèse had inherited, and many included a personal dedication to Dussaut, since the authors where colleagues or friends. But in these three the dedication was from Jean Maddus! And the dedication was not to Robert Dussaut, but à ma chère soeur A. Dussaut. So we thought we had found an answer: Jean Maddus must have been the brother of A. Dussaut, who we knew was Robert’s mother. But when we asked Thérèse about it, she told us that her father didn’t have an uncle, but an aunt named Madeleine. Moreover, she knew who Maddus was: none other than her great-aunt Madeleine Dussaut, Mad-Dus, who – like so many other women at that time – had to adopt a male nom de plume in order to be taken seriously.


Buy, listen, stream the album here.

Buy, listen, stream the album here.

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