Darius Milhaud (1892 - 1974)

Milhaud's is the music of a lyricist.  His melodies are rooted in the soil of his native Provence.  There is a simplicity and directness about them, a quietude of spirit and modesty of bearing that constitute the hallmark of his style.  From the point of view of harmonic language he was one of the foremost proponents of polytonality, in the evolution of which he played a leading role.  His orchestral writing has the French clarity of texture.

Milhaud was one of the most prolific composers of our time.  His list of works reached well above the 300 mark, including operas, children's operas, ballets, incidental music for plays, film music, choral works (cantatas, psalms, and settings of various poems and Hebrew prayers), symphonies, concertos, string quartets, piano pieces, and songs.  He seemed to compose with a facility rare in the 20th century, which recalls the days of Haydn and Mozart.

There is a contrast between the frivolity, the mockery and satire of the ballets "Le Boeuf sur le toit" (The Ox on the Rooftop, 1919) or "Le Train bleu" (The Blue Train, 1924), and the cosmic earnestness of the opera-oratorio "Christophe Colomb" (1928) or the religious devotion of the music for the Jewish "Sacred Service" (1947).

"La Creation du monde" (The Creation of the World), one of his best-known works, offers a delightful introduction to his music.  It was a landmark in the music of "Les Six."

His music, urbane and distinguished, bears the imprint of a master craftsman.  Its creator was a "musicien francais" who traced his lineage from Couperin and Rameau, Berlioz, Chabrier, and Satie.