Sunday, September 4, 2011

Darius Milhaud (September 4, 1892)

Milhaud was a prolific composer, including a wide variety of works influenced by many traditions including modernist French music (he was a member of Les Six), jazz, the music of Brazil, and the music of other composers such as Stravinsky. Among these traditions: his roots in the Jewish communities of the south of France – he was born in Aix-en-Provence. Milhaud described himself as “a Frenchman from Provence, and by religion, a Jew.”

Among Millaud’s hundreds of compositions, many have Jewish material or Jewish music, including music from Eastern Europe, and from his own French background. His opera titled "Esther of Carpentras" (which I’ve never heard) has as its subject the celebration of Purim by the very old Jewish community of Carpentras, a small town near his birthplace. One theme of this opera is tolerance, which is significant as it was first performed in 1938, two years before Milhaud fled to the United States to escape the Nazis.

For a fuller biography see this

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