Darius Milhaud was a composer and teacher who fled the Nazis and came to the United States in 1940. Once here, he taught at Mills College in San Francisco. Among his graduate students were Dave Brubeck and Burt Bacharach. Before coming to the US, he had long been an acclaimed composer and musical force of nature. He composed quickly and prolifically.
Le Boeuf Sur Le Toit
La Creation Du Monde
As a young man, he acted as secretary to the French ambassador to Brazil and soaked up the popular music there, including that of Ernesto Nazereth and the music surrounding Carnaval. These sounds found their way into many of his compositions, notably Le Boeuf Sur La Toit and his Suadades do Brasil. He also traveled to New York, in the twenties, where he heard jazz in Harlem. This influence can be heard in his La Creation Du Monde.
He doesn’t smile much in pictures, but he does in his music.
One of three waltzes from Madame Bovary
He was grouped together with Satie and Poulenc as part of Les Six, French composers reacting to the heavy influence of Wagner and Richard Strauss. His music drew on all of these influences and on the rich classical traditions of France. Later, he wrote an autobiography, which sums up his many years of creativity called, My Happy Life. That about says it all. What a lucky guy.
Two selections from my all-time favorite – Suite Provencale