Darius Milhaud

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Darius Milhaud (1892-1974) was a French composer. After studies at the Paris Conservatoire, he found himself associated with the dramatist and diplomat, Paul Claudel, writing music for Claudel's verse dramas, and even accompanying him to Brazil as a secretary.

Brazilian influences can be heard in various works, especially the ballet, “L’homme et son désir” (1918). About this time he joined “le Six” and his style changed. The ballet “Le boeuf sur la toit” (1919) is one of his most popular works. Another popular ballet, “Le création du monde” (1922) is hugely influenced by his discovery of street jazz in Harlem, during a visit to New York.

Milhaud travelled widely all his career and the results are in the various strains in his music. His output, which included music in all genres, was enormous. He wrote numerous operas, 12 symphonies, many chamber works for all combinations of instruments including 18 string quartets, solo piano works, concertos of various forms, ballets, sacred and secular choral music, songs, suites and incidental music – and somehow found time to become a well-regarded teacher on both sides of the Atlantic.

Perhaps his most heard work is a joyous little 3 movement piece for saxophone or clarinet and orchestra, “Scaramouche”.

  • ( Note: Darius is pronounced with the emphasis on the first syllable – DARius – and his surname is pronounced “mee-yo”)