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Darius Milhaud



Born: September 4, 1892; Aix-en-Provence, France   Died: June 22, 1974; Geneva, Switzerland  
One of the more prolific composers of the twentieth century, Darius Milhaud was born to a Jewish family in southern France during the last decade of the nineteenth century. He learned the violin as a youth. Studies at the Paris Conservatoire from age 17 on gave the young composer opportunity to work with some of the most prominent French composers and theorists of the day, including Charles Marie Widor, Vincent d'Indy and André Gedalge, and Read more allowed him to focus on developing his skills as a pianist.

While serving as an attaché at the French delegation in Rio de Janeiro during the First World War, Milhaud began a long and fruitful association with poet Paul Claudel (who was at that time a Minister at the delegation), several of whose plays Milhaud would go on to provide with incidental music (Proteé, 1919; L'annonce fait à Marie, 1934) and who, in turn, would supply libretti for many of Milhaud's compositions (e.g. the opera Christophe Colomb of 1928).

After returning to Paris in 1919 Milhaud was adopted into the circle of "Les Six," a group of progressive French composers brought together under the guidance of Jean Cocteau. However, like any such artificial collection, Les Six was quick to dissolve, and during the 1920s Milhaud adopted an assortment of new musical influences (notably jazz, which the composer first discovered during a trip to the U.S. in 1922, and which features prominently in much of his subsequent music).

Milhaud composed, performed, and taught ceaselessly during the 1920s and 1930s, only abandoning his homeland in late 1939 after all hope of resisting the German advance vanished. Settling in the United States, Milhaud accepted a teaching position with Mills College in Oakland, California, and continued to compose prolifically. From 1947 he combined his American teaching duties with a similar position at the Paris Conservatoire, remaining at both institutions until 1971, when his poor health forced him into retirement (Milhaud had suffered from a serious, paralyzing rheumatic condition since the 1920s; in later years he was only mobile through the use of a wheelchair). He died in Switzerland three years later.

Milhaud's musical output is impressive, both in terms of quantity and quality. The numbers alone are staggering for a twentieth century composer: nine operas, 12 ballets, 12 symphonies (in addition to six chamber symphonies), six piano concertos (one of them a double concerto), 18 string quartets, and about 400 other compositions in almost every conceivable form and instrumentation. The most frequently discussed feature of his musical language is polytonality (the simultaneous use of multiple tonal centers), though Milhaud was familiar with and fluent in any number of twentieth century "techniques." A skillful contrapuntist, Milhaud composed two string quartets (Nos. 14 and 15, both from 1949) which may also be performed simultaneously as an octet. Read less
Browse 1-6 of 6 Available Recordings
  • 1.
    Milhaud: Six Chamber Symphonies; Le Boeuf Sur Le Toit; Le Carnaval D'aix
    Label: Brilliant Classics   Catalog: 94862 Release Date: 09/30/2014   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Darius Milhaud
    Performer:  Josette [Soprano Vocal] Doemer,  Raymond Koster,  Venet [Tenor Vocal] Arend,  Norbert Mattern  ... 
    Conductor:  Darius Milhaud,  Bernhard Kontarsky,  Louis de Froment
    CD: $11.99
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  • 2.
    Darius Milhaud - Une Vie Heureuse [10-CD Set]
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 634844 Release Date: 04/22/2014   Number of Discs: 10
    Composer:  Darius Milhaud
    Performer:  Michel Béroff,  Jean-Philippe Collard,  Noel Lee,  Christian Ivaldi  ... 
    Conductor:  Leonard Bernstein,  Georges Prêtre,  Georges Tzipine,  Darius Milhaud  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  ORTF National Orchestra,  Monte Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra,  Orchestre de la Société du Conservatoire Paris  ... 
    CD: $85.99
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  • 3.
    Erato - 50 CD Collection
    Label: Erato   Catalog: 46441 Release Date: 11/19/2013   Number of Discs: 50
    Composer:  Tomaso Albinoni,  Giuseppe Tartini,  Georg Philipp Telemann,  Giuseppe Torelli  ... 
    Performer:  Maurice André,  Pierre Pierlot,  Paul Hongne,  Jacques Chambon  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Neville Marriner,  Jean-François Paillard,  Frigyes Sándor,  Kent Nagano  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Chamber Ens.,  Paillard Chamber Orchestra,  Vienna Soloists  ... 
    On sale! $299.98
    CD: $249.99
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  • 4.
    Celibidache  Vol  3 - French & Russian Music / Munich Philharmonic
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 85606 Release Date: 11/29/2011   Number of Discs: 11
    Composer:  Claude Debussy,  Darius Milhaud
    Performer:  Peter Sadlo,  János Starker,  Eric Le Sage,  Emmanuel Pahud  ... 
    Conductor:  Sergiu Celibidache,  Leonard Bernstein,  Walter Susskind,  John Alldis  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Philharmonic Orchestra
    CD: $45.99
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  • 5.
    The Four Seasons - A Musical Calendar Of Favorite Classics
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 469376 Release Date: 01/13/2003   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Antonio Vivaldi,  Ralph Vaughan Williams,  Karl Goldmark,  Jean Sibelius  ... 
    Performer:  Gidon Kremer,  Pinchas Zukerman,  Daniel Barenboim,  Shlomo Mintz  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado,  Daniel Barenboim,  Arthur Fiedler,  Neeme Järvi  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  English Chamber Orchestra,  Boston Pops  ... 
    On sale! $41.98
    ArkivCD $39.99
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  • 6.
    Milhaud: 6 Little Symphonies, Etc / Milhaud, Luxembourg Rso
    Label: Vox Box   Catalog: 5109 Release Date: 08/22/1994   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Darius Milhaud
    Performer:  Carl Seemann,  Grant Johannesen,  Faure Daniel,  Thomas Blees  ... 
    Conductor:  Darius Milhaud,  Louis de Froment,  Bernhard Kontarsky
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Luxembourg Radio/Television Symphony Orchestra
    CD: $13.99
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