program notes by composition > S > Suite Française

Suite Française

Darius Milhaud

Suite Française was premiered by the Goldman Band in New York City in 1945. The composer wrote of the five parts of the Suite: “[They] are named after French provinces, [where] the American and Allied armies fought together with the French underground [for] the liberation of my country: Normandy, Brittany, Ile-de-France …, Alsace-Lorraine, and Provence … I used some folk tunes of these provinces …[for] the young Americans to hear the popular melodies of those parts of France where their fathers and brothers fought …”

Darius Milhaud (1892–1974) was a prolific French composer, conductor, and teacher. His compositions were influenced by jazz and Brazilian music, and featured unique polytonality. Milhaud grew up in Aix-en-Provence and studied at the Paris Conservatoire. With the Nazi occupation of France, Milhaud – a prominent Jewish figure confined to a wheelchair by rheumatoid arthritis – fled to California and taught at Mills College in Oakland. His students included many future jazz and classical composers, including Burt Bacharach, Dave Brubeck, and Philip Glass.

Last updated on April 10, 2023 by Palatine Concert Band