Darius Milhaud was born in Marseilles in 1892 into a Jewish family long established in the south of France. He studied first as a violinist, though, entering the Paris conservatory in 1909, turned definitively to composition. A meeting with Paul Claudel in 1912 was one of the most significant events in his life, and from 1917 to 1918 he was in Brazil as secretary and cultural attache for Claudel who had been appointed French Ambassador. Milhaud was profoundly influenced by the rhythms of Brazilian popular music and by the sounds of the tropical forest. In 1940, the Nazi menace and his own Jewish origins obliged Milhaud to leave France for the USA. He taught at Mills College, California, not returning to Europe until 1947. Darius Milhaud died in Geneva on 22 June 1974.