September 04, 2007

Le Boeuf sur le toit

Initially composed as the soundtrack of a silent Charlie Chaplin film, Le Bœuf sur le toit becomes a succes when Darius Milhaud transforms his piece into a ballet with a scenario by Jean Cocteau, and with a stage designed by Raoul Dufy. The premiere is given in Paris, en 1920, at the Comédie des Champs-Elysées. This "cinema-symphony based on South American Airs (the title is, by the way, the one of an old brazilian tango) captivates the audience. The decor is that of a bar frequented by several characters : a bookmaker, a dwarf, a boxer, a woman dressed in man's clothing, a policeman who is decapitated by the blades of an overhead fan before he is revived... The Fratellini brothers, famous clowns of the Medrano Circus, were part of the first cast. The choreography was deliberately very slow, in marked contrast to the lively and joyful spirit of the music.
The same year, The Editions de la Sirène release the music score, illustrated by a lithography of Raoul Dufy. (source :

Currently, the librairie Loliée can offer :
  • [Cocteau - Milhaud - Dufy] - Le Boeuf sur le Toit. First Edition with Jean Cocteau's preface et first release of Darius Milhaud's music score. Original lithography by Raoul Dufy in fronstispiece.