Suite Francaise
by Darius Milhaud
--
Grade
5

b Aix-en-Provence, 1892; dGeneva, 1974. Fr. composer and pianist. Entered Paris Cons. 1909, studying with Gédalge, Widor, and d’Indy. Attaché at Fr. legation, Rio de Janeiro, 1917-19, meeting Claudel, poet-diplomat, who was to write libs. for several of his works. Returned Paris 1919, becoming known as one of Les Six who owed allegiance to Satie and Cocteau. Visited USA 1922 as pianist in his own works. Left Fr. 1940, settling in USA, teaching at Mills Coll., Oakland, Calif., 1940-71 and in summers at Aspen, Colorado. Also taught at Paris Cons. 1947-71. Extremely prolific composer, despite handicap of precarious health from late 1920s when rheumatic condition necessitated use of wheelchair. Dominating feature of his mus. is use of polytonality. Experimented with many instr. combinations and also with tape.

Year of composition: 1945

Publisher: MCA Music

Grade: 5

Type of composition: Suite

Style: 5 movement work consisting of contrasting movements.

Programming suggestions: The give parts of this Suite are named after French Provinces, the very ones in which the American and Allied armies fought together with the French underground for the liberation of the country: Normandy, Brittany, Lle-de-France, Alsace-Lorraine, and Provence. Folk songs are used in some of the movements are main melodies. Milhaud wanted young Americans to hear the popular melodies of those parts of France where their fathers and brothers fought to defeat the German invaders, who is less than seventy years have brought war, destruction, cruelty, torture and murder, three times, to the peaceful and democratic people of France.

Solo instruments: alto sax, oboe, bassoon, cornet, baritone, piccolo

Anecdotal notes: complex rhythms in compound meters. Use of grace notes on fast passages may be confusing for younger players. Fast tempi may need to be slowed down for a younger ensemble. Fast and repeated notes may be a probably on some woodwind instrument. Will require students to play with good intonation on slow sections with use of non-typical chords. Some ritards occur on fast passages for two beats and then continue back at a tempo in next measure. Few percussion parts may leave your percussionists bored.

Discography: Suite Francaise Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra Frederick Fennell, Conductor UIL Reference CD #UB071…..Eastman Wind Ensemble – Fennell Conducts Strauss, Milhaud, and Mozart. Frederick Fennell, Conductor.

Recording of "Provence"

Recording of "Bretagne"

Recording of "Normandie"

Recording of "Ile de France"

Recording of "Alsace Lorraine"