Darius Milhaud (darjys mijo) (September 4, 1892 – June 22, 1974) was a French composer and teacher. He was a member of Les Six—also known as the Groupe des Six—and one of the most prolific composers of the twentieth century. His compositions are particularly noted as being influenced by jazz and for their use of polytonality (music in more than one key at once). As Milhaud used bitonality or tritonality in his compositions, listeners could distinguish the different use of keys because of the contrast between the tone color, rhythm and register. Thus, Milhaud demonstrated that if there were greater frames of reference available to the listeners, they could then equate it to being able to relate to a wider portion of one's world rather than concentrating only on oneself.
Born to a Jewish family in Aix-en-Provence, Milhaud studied in Paris at the Paris Conservatory where he met his fellow group members Arthur Honegger and Germaine Tailleferre. He studied musical composition under Charles Widor and harmony and counterpoint with André Gédalge. In addition he studied privately with Vincent d'Indy. As a young man he worked for a while in the diplomatic entourage of Paul Claudel, the eminent poet and dramatist, who was serving as ambassador to Brazil.
On a trip to the United States in 1922, Darius Milhaud heard "authentic" jazz for the first time, on the streets of Harlem, which left a great impact on his musical outlook. Using some jazz movements, the following year, he finished composing "La Création du Monde" ("The Creation of the World"), which was cast as a ballet in six continuous dance scenes.
He left France in 1939 and immigrated to America in 1940 (his Jewish background made it impossible for him to return to his native country until after the Liberation); he secured a teaching post at Mills College in Oakland, California.
From 1947 to 1971 he taught alternate years at Mills and the Paris Conservatoire, until poor health, which caused him to use a wheelchair during his later years (beginning sometime before 1947), compelled him to retire. He died in Geneva.
Milhaud (like his contemporaries Paul Hindemith, Bohuslav Martinů and Heitor Villa-Lobos) was an extremely rapid creator, for whom the art of writing music seemed almost as natural as breathing. His most significant works include Le Boeuf sur le Toit (ballet), La Création du Monde (a ballet for small orchestra with solo saxophone, influenced by jazz), Scaramouche (for Saxophone and Orchestra, transcribed also for two pianos), and Saudades do Brazil (dance suite). His autobiography is titled Notes Sans Musique (Notes Without Music), later revised as Ma Vie Heureuse (My Happy Life).
Note that the following list represents only a tiny proportion of Milhaud's output; his opus list ended at 443.
New World Encyclopedia writers and editors rewrote and completed the Wikipedia article in accordance with New World Encyclopedia standards. This article abides by terms of the Creative Commons CC-by-sa 3.0 License (CC-by-sa), which may be used and disseminated with proper attribution. Credit is due under the terms of this license that can reference both the New World Encyclopedia contributors and the selfless volunteer contributors of the Wikimedia Foundation. To cite this article click here for a list of acceptable citing formats.The history of earlier contributions by wikipedians is accessible to researchers here:
Note: Some restrictions may apply to use of individual images which are separately licensed.