Paris, Crazy Paris ! ***
Institut français, 2nd April 2017
Picture the scene: Jean Wiéner playing Gershwin, accompanied by Jean Cocteau and Darius Milhaud on percussion; among the audience, Pablo Picasso, Sergei Diaghilev, Maurice Chevalier. The 1921 opening night of Le Bœuf sur le toit, the celebrated Parisian cabaret-bar, must have been quite the occasion. Named after Milhaud’s intoxicating ballet, itself titled after a Brazilian tango, it became the epicentre of Paris during the Roaring Twenties. It even gave French jazz the expression “faire un bœuf” – a jam session. Milhaud reported “a spirit of carefree gaiety reigned”, a spirit Marcela Roggeri and François Chaplin’s varied programme aimed to evoke.
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