Darius Milhaud’s vocal cycle «Machines agricoles»: outrage or confession?





French music of the 20th century, chamber and vocal music, work of Darius Milhaud, vocal cycle, Machines Agricoles, pastoral in music, text and context, meaning-making process, musical language, the First World War, genre as a phenomenon


Relevance of the study. Darius Milhaud's vocal cycle Machines Agricoles (op. 56) was written in 1919. The significant date of creation of the cycle in the year of the end of the First World War forever tied it to a dramatic cultural and historical context, which did not remain aloof from Milhaud's artistic tasks, but was reflected by numerous semantic overtones in the concept of the work, the principles of organization and the original characteristics of the musical language. However, the vocal cycle Machines Agricoles appears in most musicological works as an example of the artist's joke, vocal curiosity, "Dadaist provocation" and the manifestation of youthful enthusiasm. It is a fairly established opinion that the cycle does not deserve any special attention, because it contains nothing but an outrageous declaration of everyday life. Therefore, turning to the cycle Machines Agricoles in the broad context of the intersection of many cultural layers of that time, identifying the semantic dimensions of their actualization in the original work of art and determining the main vectors of its understanding is an urgent question of modern musicology..

The main objective of the study is to identify the specifics of the design and organization of the vocal cycle Machines Agricoles by Darius Milhaud as an expression of the artist's unique spiritual world.

The scientific novelty is determined by the fact that the composition of the cycle is considered as a unique semantic continuum, which was conditioned by the emotional and intellectual flows of the spiritual life of Darius Milhaud. For the first time, the text of the work is examined in a broad contextual field, in which Machines Agricoles appear as a confessional phenomenon.

The methodology of the article is based on historical, comparative, genre-stylistic and phenomenological methods of analysis.

Results / findings and conclusions. Darius Milhaud's vocal cycle Machines Agricoles appears as a unique phenomenon of his spiritual life. Іn the cycle are reflected the mental and psychological characteristics of the artist's personality, which determined his unique role in the cultural context of France between the two world wars, as well as the difficult fate of his works written in the second half of the 20th century.

Machines Agricoles are organically included in the context of French music and appear as the discovery of mental models and worldview guidelines that determine the specificity of national culture. Pastorale as a special spiritual dimension of human existence in the post-apocalyptic environment of post-war Europe; a sense of the subtle semantic layers of the artist's self-realization in the context of French musical traditions inextricably linked to the concept of mastery, clarity, "doneness"; the desire to create a complete sound world from equal layers of meaning, formed by expressive timbre means (the voice and each instrument has its own line) - all this testifies to the depth of the concept of the cycle and its unique role in the formation of Milhaud's creative credo.

The paradoxical non-acceptance of these aspects of the composer's work in the majority of historical sources caused a misunderstanding of the originality of Milhaud's artistic position in the works of later years, prevented us from feeling the boundless sincerity, emotional vulnerability and trusting intonation of the author's address to the listener.

Darius Milhaud's vocal cycle Machines Agricoles appears as an intimate confession of the author, which transforms a traumatic life experience into a new spiritual space, opens up opportunities to enter the world of perfect balance, and is evidence of the sound of a vulnerable soul that, despite everything, retains its human essence and ability to create.


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Composer’s and performer’s works: theoretical issues