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Classical Composers A-Z: Darius Milhaud

Peter Wintersgill introduces us to the French composer Darius Milhaud, who spent some time in both South and North America.

Born
4th September,1892, in Aix-en-Provence.

Adolescence
Studied at Paris Conservatoire at 17 with Widor, D'Indy and Dukas.

Adult Life
He joined Les Six in 1919 and wrote the ballets Le Boeuf sur la Toie (1919), La Creation du Monde (1923) and the opera Christoph Colombe (1928). Much of his work was for the stage, either opera, ballet, or incidental music for plays.

He spent two years in Rio de Janiero with the poet Paul Claudel, for whose play L'Annonce fait a Marie he wrote the incidental music. While there he studied Brazilian rhythms, resulting in Sandade do Brazil (1921).

In 1940 he went to California where he taught at Mills College and wrote four symphonies and six concertos, besides other orchestral and chamber works.

He returned to Paris in 1947, where he taught at the Conservatoire, and wrote two large scale operas, Bolivar (1943) and David (1954).

He also wrote sundry other orchestral, choral and chamber works, songs and piano music.

His later life was marked by episodes of ill health, probably some rheumatic condition, which confined him to a wheelchair.

He died 22nd June,1974, in Geneva, aged 81.

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