At the age of 21 Françaix wrote his Quartet for Winds for staff at Le Mans Conservatoire, where his father was the director. With the arrogance of the young he explained his choice of instrumentation as follows:
“As the horn tutor who was there at the time was never quite sure what sound would emerge from his instrument – his fame was as a specialist in the art of playing several notes at the same time – I had decided not to ‘rouse the volcano,’ and wrote a quartet without horn which would be less likely to produce disconcerting surprises.”
The work exhibits the joie de vivre that was to become one of the defining characteristics of Françaix’s music. While musical customs evolved rapidly during the course of Françaix’s working life, the composer’s own style changed little: he rejected atonality, and remained wedded to neo-classical sensibilities in the pursuit of music as a source of pleasure. Yet though Françaix did not attempt to break new musical ground, the light-hearted wit that infused his works, together with his elegant phrasing and skillful orchestration earned him the respect of many of his peers, with his compositions subsequently becoming standard concert fare.