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The Ox on the Roof, published in 1972, was Harding's third biography set against the backdrop of French music.
Reviews of The Ox on the Roof
"He is a virtuoso guide and showman of our friends across the Channel...and contrives to write splendidly and wittily about them." John Raymond, Sunday Times






The book

Le Boeuf sur le toit was the title of a gay little ballet devised by Jean Cocteau with music by Darius Milhaud.  First performed in 1919, it soon afterwards gave its name to a night club which prospered as a meeting place for everyone involved in the artistic movements which made Paris at that time a centre of experiment and exhilaration. 

In this enjoyable and witty book, Harding writes about some of the people who helped create the mood that set the ox up on the roof.  Among the leading figures were the group known as 'les Six'.  (Because, as a sapient journalist pointed out, there were six of them.)  The brilliant central figure who acted as their spokesman was Jean Cocteau, and their names were Georges Auric, Louis Durey, Arthur Honegger, Darius Milhaud, Francis Poulenc, and (the only woman) Germaine Tailleferre.  At the same time, Harding gives deft and illuminating side-glances at the literary, artistic and social milieu in which the Six moved. 
 
The Six contributed something which made the flavour of the Twenties unique.  The Ox on the Roof delightfully recaptures their gaiety and brilliance with its glittering evocation of that lost age when Paris was still a city with its own character and individuality - an age when artistic innovation flourished.  The story begins with Satie's Parade in 1917.  It ends with Poulenc's Aubade in 1929 - the time of the Wall Street crash and the year when the ox came down from the roof.