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Three-Page AMusMsS from his “Trois Chansons de Ronsard,” Written for Lily Pons

Item: 20890
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MILHAUD, DARIUS. (1892-1974). French composer of Le Boeuf sur le toit, La Creation du Monde and other 20th-century repertoire staples; a member of Les Six. AMusMsS. (“D. Milhaud”). 3pp. Folio. (11” x 13 ¼”). N.p., [1941]. In French. Three pages of a musical manuscript scored for first violin entitled Trois Chanson de Ronsard, totaling 156 measures for three of the four poems: “A une Fontaine (Mouvt. de Valse),” “A Cupidon (Modéré)” and “Dieu vous gard’ (Vif).”

One of the 20th century’s most prolific composers, Milhaud’s modernist works bear the influence of Brazilian popular music as well as jazz and make innovative use of polytonality. A student of Charles Widor and Vincent d’Indy as well as a member of Les Six, Milhaud’s pupils included Dave Brubeck, Burt Bacharach and Steve Reich.


Milhaud first set the poetry of Pierre de Ronsard (1524-1585) to music in 1934 with his Les Amours de Ronsard. He drew further inspiration from the French poet to compose Quatre Chansons de Ronsard in 1941 for French coloratura soprano Lily Pons, known for her long association with the Metropolitan Opera. Our manuscript is accompanied by an ALS written by the copyist Alfons Wallis on August 27, 1841, who had been employed to make a copy of the works parts. “Milhaud wrote the parts himself – strange enough for such noted a composer. The publisher, however, thought they were not nice enough. Thus I had to copy them and was allowed to keep the originals…” Pons premiered the Chansons de Ronsard on December 8, 1941, at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York.

Milhaud composed this work while living in California, having been forced from his native France by the Nazis. Though separated from the land and tradition which had been his greatest inspiration, Milhaud continued to compose, and teach at Mills College, where he had been offered a position upon his arrival. He returned to France in 1947.

Neatly and darkly written on the rectos of three separate sheets of 12-stave printed music paper. The first page is lightly toned and all three sheets show some gentle wear. In fine condition; musical manuscripts of Milhaud are uncommon.

Three-Page AMusMsS from his “Trois Chansons de Ronsard,” Written for Lily Pons

$3500 • item #20890

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