Darius Milhaud

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Darius Milhaud

Darius_Milhaud’s Biography

Born in Marseille in the heart of a Hebrew family from Aix-en-Provence, he began at age seven to study violin with Leo Bruguier, who incorporated him into his string quartet. He entered the Paris Conservatory in 1909. He was a student of Berthelier (violin), X. Leroux (harmony), André Gedalge (counterpoint), Paul Dukas and Vincent d’Indy (orchestra conducting) and Charles-Marie Widor (flight) .

In 1910 he wrote a comic opera based on a libretto by Francis Jammes entitled Brebis égarée (misguided sheep). Later he was attracted to chamber music. His 1st Sonata for violin and piano dates from 1911 and his first string Quartet was written in 1912. He met the poet Paul Claudel, from whom he wrote some of his poems. Among his friends were Georges Auric and Arthur Honegger, companions in the Group of Six.

In 1916 he traveled to Brazil as secretary of Paul Claudel, then ambassador. On this trip Milhaud writes the Saudades do Brasil, the suite for saxophone, Scaramouche, with his outstanding third movement Brasileira, Le Bœuf sur le toit and the choreographic poem L’Homme et son desir. In 1918 he returns to France and befriends Erik Satie and the musicians of the Group of Six.

During the following years the creative activity of Milhaud is incessant: cantatas, concerts, songs, choral works follow one another in rapid cadence. He married his cousin Madeleine, who from 1937 would be his collaborator in several works. He made numerous trips and offered concerts in all the countries of Europe.

In 1940 he moved to the United States when he received the commission of a symphony for the Chicago orchestra. He remained there until 1947 where he worked as a composition teacher at Mills College in Oakland, California, where he had as students, among others, the jazz musician Dave Brubeck and the composer Robert Kurka (1921-1957). He left this post to work as an honorary professor of composition at the Paris Conservatory, where he had as his disciples Iannis Xenakis and Karlheinz Stockhausen.

In 1952 he traveled to Israel, where he wrote part of his opera David.

In 1965 its catalog was composed of 409 works, small and large, written for all musical genres. Among these, the ballets Le bœuf sur le toit (1920) and La Création du Monde (premiered by the Swedish Ballets in 1923) and the orchestral piece Suite Provençale (1937) stand out.

Among the operas composed by Milhaud include Esther de Carpentras, Op.89 (1925-1926 released in 1937); Le pauvre matelot, Op.92 (1926), a ‘complainte’ in three acts; three Opéras-minutes of 1927 (L’enlèvement d’Europe, Op.94; L’abandon d’Ariane, Op.98 and Le délivrance de Thésée, Op.99), Christophe Colomb, Op.102; Bolivar, Op.236 (1943); David, Op.320 (1952-1953); and La mère coupable, Op.412 (1964-1965).



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