Tuesday, September 4, 2012
September 4 is the birthdate of prolific French modernist composer Darius Milhaud. His students included jazz pianist Dave Brubeck and songwriter Burt Bacharach. His surrealist ballet “Le boeuf sur le toit” (1920), originally intended as the score to a silent Chaplin film, was influenced by Brazilian popular music. Its title comes from a tango, one of nearly 30 Brazilian tunes quoted in the ballet, which is set in a bar frequented by a bookmaker, a dwarf, a boxer, a woman in men's clothing and a policeman decapitated by an overhead fan. The work gave its name to a celebrated cabaret-bar in Paris, which became a meeting-place for writer and protégé Jean Cocteau and his associates.