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Suite Française (Milhaud)

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Darius Milhaud

Darius Milhaud


General Info

Year: 1944
Duration: c. 16:15
Difficulty: VI (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: MCA Music. Distributed by Hal Leonard
Cost: Score and Parts (print) - $115.00   |   Score Only (print) - $15.00


1. Normandie – 1:35
2. Bretagne – 4:30
3. Ile de France – 1:55
4. Alsace-Lorraine – 4:15
5. Provence – 2:50


Full Score
C Piccolo
Flute I-II
Oboe I-II
Bassoon I-II
E-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Clarinet I-II-III
E-flat Alto Clarinet
B-flat Bass Clarinet
E-flat Alto Saxophone I-II
B-flat Tenor Saxophone
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Bass Saxophone
B-flat Cornet I-II-III
B-flat Trumpet I-II
Horn in F I-II-III-IV
Trombone I-II-III
String Bass
Percussion (3 players), including:

  • Bass Drum
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Military Drum
  • Snare Drum


In Score:

  • Instrumentation List: The "1st Bb Clarinet" and "1st Bb Cornet" should actually read "Solo & 1st Bb Clarinet" and "Solo & 1st Bb Cornet." Two players will be needed to play on each part, as the parts divide.

In Parts:

  • Oboes, Mvt II, m.51-52: Add an "E-natural" as the final note to the melody. [Note: Orchestra score has a mezzo-forte E dotted half note (meas. 51) tied to E dotted quarter note + quarter rest + eighth rest (meas. 52)].
  • Baritone TC, Mvt V, m.82: Last eighth note C should be C#.
  • Tuba, Mvt III, m.11-13: The accents should instead be staccato markings (as in the bassoons).

See also: Topolewski, in Resources, below.

Program Notes

Suite Française was written in 1944 on commission from the publisher Leeds Music Corporation, as part of a contemplated series of original works for band by outstanding contemporary composers. Milhaud's first extended work for winds, Suite Française was premiered by the Goldman Band in 1945.

- Program Note from Illinois State University Wind Symphony concert program, 24 April 2016

About the Suite Française, Milhaud states:

For a long time I have had the idea of writing a composition fit for high school purposes, and this was the result. In the bands, orchestras, and choirs of American high schools, colleges and universities where the youth of the nation be found, it is obvious that they need music of their time, not too difficult to perform, but nevertheless keeping the characteristic idiom of the composer.

The five parts of this suite are named after French Provinces, the very ones in which the American and Allied armies fought together with the French underground of the liberation of my country: Normandy, Brittany, Ile-de-France (of which Paris is the center), Alsace-Lorraine, and Provence (my birthplace).

I used some folk tunes of these provinces. I wanted the young American to hear the popular melodies of those parts of France where their fathers and brothers fought to defeat the German invaders, who in less than seventy years have brought war, destruction, cruelty, torture, and murder three times to the peaceful and democratic people of France."

- Program Note by Darius Milhaud

I. Normandie: Milhaud uses two lively Norman folk songs: Germaine, about a warrior coming home as seen through the eyes of a young woman; and The French Shepherdess and the King of England, about a comic meeting between the two title characters. Milhaud added some original material to help him depict the region where so many American servicemen landed in France during World War II.

II. Bretagne: A foghorn announces the beginning of Bretagne, a province with deep ties to the sea. The movement uses the sea shanties to depict the story of a young woman and her seafaring lover.

III. Ile de France: With lively folk song, this movement depicts the bustle of Paris. It begins with a children’s round that alternates bars of 3 beats and 2, and which Milhaud sets in 4 beats while still retaining the accents of the original. The lyrical melody that follows also reflects the bubbly attitude of the City of Light.

IV. Alsace-Lorraine: Here, Milhaud takes a dark turn, with material suggesting distant artillery fire around a solemn funeral procession, fitting for a region that borders Germany and was taken over during the war.

V. Provence: Reflecting on his home region, Milhaud utilizes a rondo with a fast, scatterbrained main theme, alternating with a fife-and-tambor segment typical of the French Provinces countryside and a slower, slightly more romantic subject -- both of these interludes derived from the principal melody.

- Program Note from Austin Symphonic Band concert program, 12 November 2017


State Ratings

  • Florida:   ---   (The Florida Bandmasters Association denotes this as "significant literature.")
    • Grade IV: Movement 4 only
    • Grade V: Movements 1, 4, and 5
    • Grade VI: Complete Suite
  • Maryland:
    • Grade V: Any four movements
    • Grade VI: Complete Suite
  • New York:
    • Grade VI: Any three movements
  • Texas:
    • Grade III: Any two movements
    • Grade IV: Any three movements
    • Grade V: Complete Suite


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Appalachian State University (Boone, N.C.) Symphony Band (Jason Gardner, conductor) - 26 April 2023
  • University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) Symphony Band (Michael Haithcock, conductor) – 3 February 2023
  • Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville Wind Symphony (Rubén Darío Gómez) - 7 December, 2022
  • University of Minnesota (Minneapolis) Symphonic Band (Jerry Luckhardt, conductor) - 2 December 2022
  • University of Cincinnati (Ohio) College-Conservatory of Music Wind Ensemble (Thomas Gamboa, conductor) - 22 March 2022
  • Douglas Anderson School of the Arts (Jacksonville, Fla.) Wind Symphony (Ted Shistle, conductor) – 24 February 2022 (CBDNA 2022 Southern Conference, Columbia, S.C.)
  • University of Oklahoma (Norman) Symphony Band (Donald Linn, conductor) – 12 October 2021
  • University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Symphonic Wind Ensemble (Glenn C. Hayes, conductor) - 3 May 2021
  • Texas Tech University (Lubbock) Symphonic Band (Eric Allen, conductor) - 1 April 2021
  • Eastman Wind Orchestra (Rochester, N.Y.) (Mark Davis Scatterday, conductor) - 29 March 2021
  • Brock University (St. Catherines, Ont. Can.) Wind Ensemble (Zoltan Kalman, conductor) - 15 January 2021
  • Banda Filarmónica Juveníl (Bogotá, Colombia) Wind Ensemble (David MacKenzie, conductor) – 21 March 2020
  • West Valley College (Saratoga, Calif.) Symphonic Band (Troy Davis, conductor) – 7 March 2020
  • University of Minnesota (Minneapolis) Symphonic Band (Betsy McCann, conductor) – 3 March 2020
  • Shenandoah Conservatory (Winchester, Va.) Wind Ensemble (Timothy Robblee, conductor) – 29 February 2020
  • University of Florida (Gainesville) Symphonic Band (John Watkins Jr., conductor) – 27 February 2020
  • New England Conservatory (Boston) Senior Massachusetts Youth Wind Ensemble (Michael Mucci, conductor) – 21 February 2020 (France Performance Tour)
  • University of Oregon (Eugene) Wind Symphony (Jason M. Silveira, conductor) – 11 February 2020
  • University of North Dakota (Grand Forks) Wind Ensemble (James Popejoy, conductor) – 3 December 2019
  • Central Michigan University (Mount Pleasant) Symphony Band (Chris Chapman, conductor) – 3 December 2019
  • University of Colorado Boulder Symphonic Band (Matthew Dockendorf, conductor) – 20 November 2019
  • University of Connecticut (Storrs) Wind Ensemble (Vu Nguyen, conductor) – 14 November 2019
  • Friends University Wichita, Kan.) Concert Band (Wichita, KS) (Shawn M. Knopp, conductor) – 4 November 2019
  • Brigham Young University (Provo, Utah) Wind Symphony (Don L. Peterson, conductor) – 30 October 2019
  • High School Symphonic Band [Interlochen, Mich.] (Frederick Fennell, conductor) – 6 August 1983

Works for Winds by This Composer


  • Garofalo, Robert. Suite Française: A teaching-learning unit. Meredith Music Publications, 1998.
  • Grimmer, Jessica. "The Composer in Exile: Darius Milhaud’s Suite Francaise." Journal of Band Research vol. 57, no. 2, Spring 2022, pp. 1-9.
  • McWilliams, Rob. "Darius Milhaud's Suite Francaise: A Wind Band Classic." Journal of Band Research vol. 40, no. 1, Fall 2004, pp. 22-37.
  • Miles, Richard B., and Larry Blocher. Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 1. GIA Publications, 2010, pp. 702-714.
  • Milhaud, Darius. "Suite Francaise": Orchestral Score in the New York Philharmonic Archives.
  • Miller, Stephen. "The Band Compositions of Darius Milhaud." CBDNA Journal no. 5, Winter 1988, pp. 1–4. Reprinted in The Wind Band and Its Repertoire: Two Decades of Research as Published in the College Band Directors National Association Journal. Compiled and edited by Michael Votta Jr. Warner Bros. Publications, 2003, pp. 147-151.
  • Pease, Andy. "Suite Française by Darius Milhaud." Wind Band Literature, A Conductor’s Perspective. Accessed 22 September 2022.
  • Prindl, Frank Joseph. "A Study of Ten Original Compositions for Band Published in America Since 1946." Ed.D. dissertation. Florida State University, 1956.
  • Reynish, Timothy. "Interpreting Milhaud's Suite Francaise." Winds 16, no. 1, Spring 2001, pp. 62-63.
  • Stone, Stuart. "Darius Milhaud's Suite Francaise: Of Folk Songs and the Sorrows of War." The Instrumentalist vol. 53, no. 6, January 1999, pp. 31-36, 85.
  • Topolewski, Timothy. Errata Studies for the Wind Band Conductor Volume 2. DeBiencourt, Montreal, Que., Can., Plein la Vue, 2003.
  • Whitwell, David. "Making Masterpieces Musical. Part II: Darius Milhaud--Suite Francaise." NBA Journal vol. 51, no. 4, Summer 2011, pp. 49-51.