One of the benefits of working on projects with others (research, design, collaboration, etc.) is that you always learn something new.

Take quilting, for example. I was asked to create a quilt square using an image of Darius Milhaud and one of his dancers for a commemorative quilt gift in honor of a lovely lady celebrating her 90th birthday (I can’t tell you who… it’s still a surprise!). Who is Darius Milhaud?

Before retiring from archives and special collections, I worked with a body of materials in the Darius Milhaud Society Collection at Cleveland State University. The Society, based in Cleveland, sought to promote the work of Darius Milhaud, a member of Les Six (also known as The Group of Six) and one of the most prolific composers of the 20th century.

The rise of Nazi Germany and invasion of France forced Darius Milhaud and his wife to emigrate to the United States in 1940. Because of his Jewish background, Milhaud could not return to his native country until after the war concluded. He secured a teaching post at Mills College in Oakland, California, where he composed and collaborated with other composers during the war years.

From 1947 to 1971, he taught alternate years at Mills and the Paris Conservatoire, until poor health compelled him to retire. He died in Geneva at the age of 81, and he was buried in the Saint-Pierre Cemetery in Aix-en-Provence.

During his tenure at Mills College, Darius Milhaud became acquainted with one of his students, Katharine Warne. Warne studied composition with Milhaud during her undergraduate career at Mills College and completed compositions, sketches, and homework during her time as a student with him. Upon graduating from Mills College in 1945, Katharine Warne maintained contact with Darius and Madeleine Milhaud (Darius’ wife), often attending Milhaud’s birthday celebrations at Mills College. It was through Warne’s efforts that the Darius Milhaud Society was created.

The quilt square will become part of a memory quilt for one of Milhaud’s dancers, who later became an associate professor (emeritus) of sociology and women’s studies at Cleveland State University.


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