Darius Milhaud (4 September 1892 – 22 June 1974) was a French composer and teacher. He was a member of 'Les Six' and one of the most prolific composers of the twentieth century. His compositions are influenced by jazz and make use of polytonality.
Milhaud studied at the Paris Conservatory where he met his fellow group members Arthur Honegger and Germaine Tailleferre. Milhaud (like his contemporaries Paul Hindemith, Gian Francesco Malipiero, 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 popular works include Le bœuf sur le toit (ballet), La création du monde (a ballet for small orchestra with solo saxophone, influenced by jazz), Scaramouche (for Saxophone and Piano, also for two pianos), and Saudades do Brasil (dance suite).
His autobiography is entitled 'Notes sans musique' (Notes Without Music), later revised as 'Ma vie heureuse' (My Happy Life). The Milhaud family left France in 1939 and emigrated to America in 1940 where he secured a teaching post at Mills College in Oakland, California. From 1947 to 1971he taught alternate years at Mills and the Paris Conservatoire, until poor health compelled him to retire. He died in Geneva aged 81.
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