Darius Milhaud was born in France and immigrated to the U.S. in 1940. He was then a professor at Mills College, in Oakland, Calif., from 1940 to 1971. His opera, David, premiered at La Scala in Milan in 1955. In 1956, Jack Amidor and Seymour Fromer produced the American premiere at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, thanks to the fundraising efforts of The Festival of Faith and Freedom Committee of the American Association for Jewish Education.
In 1970, the Magnes acquired a small collection of primary sources about Milhaud’s opera. In 2007, Seymour Fromer donated a new set of papers documenting the activities of The Festival of Faith and Freedom Committee. The Committee worked relentlessly for over a year. It succeeded in raising the necessary funds and gathered the support of many, in California and beyond, to make the grandiose event possible.
The collection contains the English version of Armand Lunel’s original French libretto of Milhaud’s opera, by Rollo Meyer; a program for its American premiere at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles (1956); a program for a performance of David at the San Francisco Opera House (1963); photocopies of newspaper articles about David, both before and after the performance in Los Angeles; and some photographs of Milhaud.
Among the recently acquired documents are letters from musicians, like composer Ernest Bloch, conductor Leopold Stokowski and pianist Arthur Rubinstein; film directors, like Cecil B. deMille and Orson Welles; many prominent figures in the California Jewish community, and from Pierre Mendes-France, then Prime Minister of France.