Thursday, September 4, 8892

Darius Milhaud (1892-1975) - La Creation

Darius Milhaud (1892-1975)

L'Homme et son Desir (1918)

Le Boeuf sur le Toit (1918)

La Creation du Monde (1923)


The Chaos Before Creation

Darius Milhaud (September 4, 1892 - June 22, 1974) was a French composer and teacher. He was a member of Les Six -also known as the Groupe des Six - and one of the most prolific composers of the 20th century. His compositions are particularly noted as being influenced by jazz and for their use of polytonality (music in more than one key at once).

Born to a Jewish family in Aix-en-Provence, Milhaud studied in Paris at the Paris Conservatory where he met his fellow group members Arthur Honegger and Germaine Tailleferre. He studied composition under Charles Widor and harmony and counterpoint with André Gédalge. In addition he studied privately with Vincent d'Indy. As a young man he worked for a while in the diplomatic entourage of Paul Claudel, the eminent poet and dramatist, who was serving as ambassador to Brazil.

On a trip to the United States in 1922, Darius Milhaud heard "authentic" jazz for the first time, on the streets of Harlem, which left a great impact on his musical outlook. Using some jazz movements, the following year, he finished composing "La création du monde" ("The Creation of the World"), which was cast as a ballet in six continuous dance scenes.

He left France in 1939 and emigrated to America in 1940 (his Jewish background made it impossible for him to return to his native country until after the Liberation); he secured a teaching post

at Mills College in Oakland, California. Dave Brubeck (who named his eldest son Darius), Steve Reich, and Philip Glass are among his best-known students.

Milhaud (like his contemporaries Paul Hindemith, Gian Francesco Malipiero, Bohuslav Martinů and Heitor Villa-Lobos) was an extremely rapid creator, for whom the art of writing music seemed almost as natural as breathing. His most popular works include Le Boeuf sur le Toit (ballet), La création du monde (a ballet for small orchestra with solo saxophone, influenced by jazz), Scaramouche (for Saxophone and Orchestra, also for two pianos), and Saudades do Brasil (dance suite). His autobiography is titled Notes Sans Musique (Notes Without Music), later revised as Ma Vie Heureuse (My Happy Life).

From 1947 to 1971 he taught alternate years at Mills and the Paris Conservatoire, until poor health, which caused him to use a wheelchair during his later years (beginning sometime before 1947), compelled him to retire. He died in Geneva, aged 81.

Six little Symphonies
Symphony No. 1
Symphony No. 2
Symphony No. 3
Symphony No. 4
Symphony No. 5
Symphony No. 6
Symphony No. 7
Symphony No. 8
Symphony No. 9
Symphony No. 10
Symphony No. 11
Symphony No. 12

String Quartet No. 1
String Quartet No. 2
String Quartet No. 3
String Quartet No. 4
String Quartet No. 5
String Quartet No. 6
String Quartet No. 7
String Quartet No. 8
String Quartet No. 9
String Quartet No. 10
String Quartet No. 11
String Quartet No. 12
String Quartet No. 13
String Quartet No. 14
String Quartet No. 15
String Quartet No. 16
String Quartet No. 17
String Quartet No. 18

Homage a Igor Stravinsky

Machines agricoles, Op. 56, for one singer and 7 instruments, with texts taken out of a catalogue for agricultural machines (1919)

Cataloque des fleurs, Op.60, for one voice and 7 instruments (1920)

Chateau du feu, Op.337, Cantate, In memory of his Jewish natives who are killed during the war by the Nazis.

Psaume 121, for men's choir, written for the Harvard Glee Club after their 1921 tour of Europe.

Notable students

Larry Austin
Burt Bacharach
Irwin Bazelon
William Bolcom
Dave Brubeck
Charles Dodge
Philip Glass (During a summer camp where he challenged Aaron Copland's opinion)
Ben Johnston
György Kurtág
Steve Reich
Karlheinz Stockhausen (though he left his studies early)
Morton Subotnick
Iannis Xenakis

[8894 B. Smith / 8892 Milhaud / 8892 Grofe]