French composer, conductor and teacher Darius Milhaud was born in Marseille on 4 September 1892. He studied with Charles Widor and André Gedalge at the Paris Conservatoire, where he met Arthur Honegger and Germaine Tailleferre. The three of them would later become members of the famous group of French composers Les Six.
One of Milhaud's best known works, Le bœuf sur le toit, is strongly influenced by Brazilian popular music, which he was exposed to whilst working as the French ambassador to Brazil's secretary. The ambassador, Paul Claudel, was also a poet and dramatist, and Claudel and Milhaud collaborated on many occasions.
Another visit abroad also influenced Milhaud's music: hearing 'authentic' jazz on the streets of Harlem, New York City greatly affected the ballet La création du monde.
When Hitler invaded France in 1940, Milhaud, with his Jewish background, was forced to leave France and he taught at Mills College, Oakland, California, USA, where one of his students was jazz pianist Dave Brubeck. After the war, he alternated between Mills College and the Paris Conservatoire until he was forced to retire due to poor health in 1971. He also co-founded and taught at the Music Academy of the West summer conservatory in California. Other well-known Milhaud students include Burt Bacharach, William Bolcom and Steve Reich.
Darius Milhaud died in Geneva on 22 June 1974, aged eighty-one.
Classical music news - Jess Gillam - The British saxophonist and her ensemble join Intermusica Artists' Management Ltd
CD Spotlight. An Intriguing Snapshot - Keith Bramich listens to piano music by Robert Matthew-Walker. 'Mark Bebbington ... is exemplary here, bringing out all the contrasts and mood changes ...'
Echoes of Oblivion by Robert McCarney - A short night at the opera
CD Spotlight. The Magic of Ballets Russes - Giuseppe Pennisi listens to Warner Classics' box set. '... a gem which should be on the shelves of all those interested in the music of the early decades of the twentieth century ...'
Ensemble. When I'm Sixty-Four - Giuseppe Pennisi visits the Spoleto Festival
Ensemble. Melody and Mayhem - The English Symphony Orchestra's New Year's Eve offering, heard by Alice McVeigh
French Romanticism - George Colerick discusses orchestral music by Berlioz, Saint-Saëns, Delibes, Lalo, d'Indy, Debussy, Ravel, Honegger, Poulenc, Milhaud and others
Ensemble. Loony Plot - Mike Wheeler listens to Sinfonia Viva's performances of Wagner, Milhaud, Martinu and Copland
Ensemble. What It Means To Be Human - Maria Nockin listens to orchestral music on the shores of Lake Tahoe
Ensemble. An Attractive Sound-world - Mike Wheeler listens to the Thorne Trio
CD Spotlight. Full of Life - Trio Koch plays Moszkowski, Milhaud and Martinu, recommended by Geoff Pearce. '... the players show a superb understanding of the melodic line and harmonic structure ...'
CD Spotlight. Engagingly Performed - Rachel and Vanessa Fuidge at one and two pianos, recommended by the late Howard Smith. '... technique, tonal address and aural poetry.'
Ensemble. Extraordinary Artistic Freedom - The Francesco Siciliani Prize at Sagra Musicale Umbra, by Giuseppe Pennisi
CD Spotlight. Likeable Discs - Music for cello and piano, heard by Howard Smith. '... affectionately presented throughout.'
Ensemble. Humour and Fizz - Eddie Daniels and the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Kristjan Järvi, heard by Alice McVeigh
Ensemble. Sparkling Delight - Shirley Ratcliffe hears I Fagiolini at the Holt Festival
DVD Spotlight. Ho hum! - Vidor Nagy plays Bach and Paganini, reviewed by Howard Smith. '... moments of splendour.'
Ensemble. Compelling Vocal Drama - Lawrence Budmen listens to Measha Brueggergosman and the New World Symphony
Ensemble. Crystalline Lightness - A Symphony of the Americas concert, reviewed by Lawrence Budmen
Ensemble. Another Treat - Martinu's 'Mirandolina' at Garsington Opera, by Roderic Dunnett
CD Spotlight. Engagingly Heartening - Choral and orchestral music by Arthur Honegger, enjoyed by Howard Smith. '... strikingly performed by Welsh forces ...'
Ensemble. Lively Playing - A concert by Zephyr, appreciated by Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Heavy Artillery - Music by Bloch, Engel, Honegger, Milhaud and Szymanowski, heard by Howard Smith. '... an acceptable though rather dated style.'
Ensemble. Great Fun - More from Sinfonia Viva's school and college residency project, reviewed by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Much to Enjoy - A concert by the Philharmonia of the Nations, reviewed by Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. A Curious Recital - Paul Calistus-Ashley plays Poulenc, Schubert and Dett, reviewed by Howard Smith. '... verve and sensitivity.'
Record Box. Enterprising Recordings - Music for piano and orchestra, reviewed by Patric Standford
Ensemble. Darkness to light - Malcolm Tattersall is at the Australian Festival of Chamber Music
CD Spotlight. A great starting point - Land's End Chamber Ensemble's first CD, reviewed by Malcolm Tattersall. '... first-rate performances and excellent production.'
Ensemble. Ravel chestnut - A dazzling arrangement of 'Bolero' for two pianos, reviewed by Lawrence Budmen