La Muse

salon kleur

Florent Schmitt (1870-1958) String Trio op. 105 (1944)

Darius Milhaud (1892-1974) Suite ‘La muse ménagère’ (The Household Muse) (1944) Arrangements of the original piano suite made by: Bob Gilmore, Tim Kliphuis, Petra Griffioen and Marijn van Prooijen

La Muse is also the title of the new album that we expect to release in May this year. The program has very personal history to tell. It starts with our choice for this music. We present to you two completely different works from 1944. One is turbulent and magnificent, the other intimate and poetic. The two composers could not be more different, and might be said to clash. And yet, we feel their works are a beautiful match and complement each other well. Was it inspiration, call it the Muse, that brought the two together? Florent Schmitt’s muse seems to be Music itself, leading him on in an explosion of compositional creativity. Darius Milhaud names his wife Madeleine as his muse and pours his gratitude into a musical tribute.

Let Prisma be your muse now - and listen.

Janneke’s story about Florent Schmitt

When the Prisma String Trio was founded in 2002, this naturally started a search for repertoire, as the plucky younger sister of the string quartet has been neglected by most composers. Every now and then, we’d discover a hidden gem of such originality and depth that we wonder why it’s not played more often. Amongst all the repertoire tips from string colleagues, one mysterious name caught my attention: Florent Schmitt. The comment: ‘manic Ravel, extremely difficult’. This name kept buzzing around in my head. After ten years of polishing up the better-known string trio jewels, my Prisma colleagues finally gave in. Armed with hammers and picks, we set to work unearthing this hidden treasure. And lo and behold, a beautiful diamond came to the surface. 

Florent Schmitt

 The Trio à cordes Op. 105 is a fascinating work by a composer focusing on chamber music more and more in his later years. Schmitt dedicates it to the Pasquier Trio and in it he explores the limits of what they can do. The three brothers Jean, Pierre and Étienne Pasquier practice the piece for a whole year before premiering it and recording it on 78 rpm record. It’s not easy on the listener either, but those who make the effort are handsomely rewarded. It’s really exciting to hear the composer conjure up such richness of sound and colour with just the three instruments; it’s like we’re hearing a string sextet for three players. Sophistication, extravagance, restless movement and poignant lyricism alternate in a grand composition that presents new musical vistas every time you hear it afresh.

Michiel’s story about the program La Muse

Often, our Prisma rehearsals start with a more than cursory answer to the question ‘How are you?’. At nine thirty a.m., we find ourselves sharing not just musical issues, but also our personal triumphs, disappointments and depressions. Add to this many a car, train or backstage conversation and you will understand we’ve got to know each other very well over the years. Our way of playing and programming cannot but have a personal touch.

Elisabeth’s story about Milhaud

Elisabeth and Bob

 The muse came to my aid in one of my darkest moments. In 2012, my partner, musicologist Bob Gilmore, was diagnosed with a serious illness. We knew then that his life was coming to an end. The period up to his death on 2 January 2015 was intensely difficult, and at the same time beautiful and loving. I did all I could to make Bob’s remaining time as bearable and meaningful as possible. One evening, Bob surprised me with La Mienne, the first movement of the piano cycle La Muse ménagère (The Household Muse). He had written an arrangement for string trio in secret, just as Milhaud had quietly worked on this present for his love, Madeleine. I was so moved! In his last months, Bob managed to add five more movements. I can still picture him sitting at the table under the night-time lamp, writing notes in his refined script. Again and again, the pain in his hands made him stop, but he persevered out of love. Janneke and Michiel suggested we let our loved ones, our muses, finish the suite: Janneke’s brother Marijn van Prooijen, her husband Tim Kliphuis, and Michiel’s wife Petra Griffioen. This way, we have formed one big musical household. The arranged suite is a beautiful ode to Bob and to Muses ménagères all over the world.

Milhaud’s story

Madeleine and Darius Milhaud

The Milhauds are an artistic family. We know Darius as the figurehead of the famed Groupe des Six and Madeleine is a celebrated actress and librettist. They often collaborate and travel the world together. Milhaud’s health is frail for most of his life and he ends up in a wheelchair. In France, the Milhauds have a housekeeper who looks after Darius when Madeleine is on tour, but in 1940 the family emigrates to the United States to avoid persecution by the Nazi regime. Darius talks about this in his autobiography, My Happy Life: “Life is hard for Madeleine here: There are no servants in the United States except at wages higher than the salaries of University professors (…). Madeleine has to cope with it all unaided: cleaning, buying provisions, cooking and washing up - and we have a constant stream of visitors. She also acts as chauffeur for me and has to snatch a few moments here and there for her own work and reading. You see that the title of the little piano suite I wrote for her, La Muse ménagère, is no fanciful allusion.”

Milhaud’s close friend and biographer, Paul Collaer, describes the suite of 15 miniatures as follows: “This beautiful expression of appreciation has a confidential quality. Most of the fifteen pieces could even be described as ‘silent music,’ meaning the kind of silence that descends on a household toward evening, when thoughts turn inward, few words need to be exchanged, and all is at peace. (…) It is a moving experience on a quiet evening to read through the several sections entitled Poetry, Music Together, Poetry, Music Together, Sweetness of the Evenings and Reading at Night, to penetrate the veiled, vague murmurs of the Fortune Telling, to conjure up the image of the beloved muse herself in those sections entitled Cooking and Laundry, and to discover with amusement the turbulence of The Son who Paints." 

Here’s an impression of La Muse ménagère (The household Muse) by Milhaud:

Here's an impression of the recording sessions for our new album La Muse:

🇬🇧The English site is under construction. Many links refer to pages in Dutch. We apologize for the inconvenience. Would you like more information please contact us via mail or telephone: contact

Contact       © Michiel Weidner 2021