Comparative Composer Premieres


This interactive map is meant to be a resource for scholars and the general public to delve into the world of 20th-century musical scholarship. The maps on this page encompass the premieres of Darius Milhaud, Francis Poulenc, Arthur Honegger, and Igor Stravinsky from 1910-1933. The map can be used to compare the geographical distribution of each composer’s works and is designed to prompt questions for further research. Be cautious with our map: in her work “How to Play with Maps,” Bethany Nowviskie writes that “one cannot ‘play with maps’ without playing with the truth” (107). We like to think that maps represent an “objective” reality, that “solid, real-world referents underlie everything we see in maps” and mapmakers “maintain reasonable continuities in the relation of design to reality” (Nowviskie 108). But, like any other visual representation, maps contain biases. So, use our maps as a research tool, a pedagogical resource, or an example of digital humanities scholarship and remember that each map, no matter how it’s presented, represents a unique expression of a set of data. This being said: welcome to the world of 20th-century composers!

Darius Milhaud

Francis Poulenc

Arthur Honegger

Igor Stravinsky

How to Use

Each composer corresponds to a specific dot color. Arthur Honegger is dark blue, Francis Poulenc is green, Igor Stravinsky is light blue, and Darius Milhaud is purple. Click on bookmarks to zoom quickly to Paris, Europe, or the World. Click on specific points for more information on each premiere.  

Comparative Composer Premiere Map

What Does This Map Say?

Mapping the premieres of works by these four composers, several trends and subsequent research questions emerge:

1.) Paris held the monopoly on premieres of works by these four composers. About 72% of these premieres (138/221) were held in Paris. This seems to support the idea of Paris as cultural capital of Europe in the early 20th century, but what factors made it possible for so many premieres to take place here?

2.) Stravinsky was the only composer out of the four who had a majority of his works premiered outside of Paris -about 46% of Stravinsky’s works were premiered in Paris, compared to Milhaud’s 64%, Honegger’s 70%, and Poulenc’s 84%. Why were many of Stravinsky’s works premiered outside of Paris? To what extent does this have to do with the nationality of each composer? Why were Milhaud’s works premiered more outside of France than those of Honegger and Poulenc?

3.) The vast majority of premieres were held in public theaters and concert halls (rather than churches or private residences). What does this say about the role of music in social life in early 20th century Europe? To what extent does the kind of venue inform the style/genre of music that is performed there, and vice versa?

4.) The vast majority of premieres were held in Europe, except for a couple along the East coast of the U.S. and one in Rio de Janeiro. What connections did these composers have that made it possible for their works to be premiered outside of Europe? How and why did one of Milhaud’s works get premiered in Rio?

5.) In France, the vast majority of premieres were concentrated in Paris, while in Germany, premieres were spread out over several cities. Why is this? What does this say about the sociopolitical systems and the distribution and flow of power in each country?

Faceted Map of Composer Premieres

Stravinsky’s Premieres 1910-1933

Honegger’s Premieres 1910-1933

Poulenc’s Premieres 1910-1933

Milhaud’s Premieres 1910-1933

Honegger's premieres 1910-1933

Honegger’s premieres 1910-1933

Stravinsky's premieres 1910-1933

Stravinsky’s premieres 1910-1933

Poulenc's premieres 1910-1933


Milhaud's premieres 1910-1933

premieres 1910-1933

What Does This Map Say?

Maps come in many different forms. We have experimented with varying forms to create unique arguments and to highlight specific trends. Above we have separated the map layers of our main premieres map into four isolated maps and displayed them side by side to illuminate a new perspective. This map collage makes the distribution of premiere locations for each composer more explicit. A few trends emerge that are useful to our research. For instance, we can see that out of the four composers, Milhaud’s premieres are the most widespread across Europe. Although all of the composers have premieres outside of France, the map of Milhaud’s music shows that his premieres were not centered in France as much as the others. In fact, the map shows that several of his pieces were premiered in Germany. This pattern raises the question: why did Milhaud branch out into Germany more than his contemporaries? We are taking on this and other questions in our research. As you can see, our maps help us to discover trends and find new avenues of research.

Why this map?

Our focus for the summer of 2017 is the music of composer Darius Milhaud. We are interested in why so much of his music was performed in Germany, especially considering the conflict between the two countries. A comparative map including Milhaud and several of his contemporaries can give us a better idea of how he stood out in the twentieth century. As is the case with most maps that we have made, this is largely exploratory, and most likely will not yet lead us to any concrete conclusions about Milhaud. However, it can lead us to new and exciting research questions.

This map also serves a pedagogical purpose. It helped us as a research team to develop map-making skills using ArcGis software. Additionally, it is a good example of what musicological research looks like on a map, and allows for experimentation with operating interactive maps like this. Feel free to explore with bookmarks, pop-ups, and more on our map!

Research Methods

For the past two summers, the Musical Geography Project CURI Team has been working to compile the data related to the premieres of Arthur Honegger, Francis Poulenc, Darius Milhaud, and Igor Stravinsky. This summer we finished compiling the data for the premieres of these composers’ music through the year 1933. To accomplish this, we primarily use two methods:

  1. Using secondary sources as a starting place, we collected as much information as possible relating to the premiere date, venue, address, latitude and longitude, and more for pieces by each composer.
  2. What we could not locate in secondary sources, we confirmed in primary sources including historical periodicals, newspapers, and autobiographies. For a complete list of our sources, please see the bibliography at the bottom of the page.

After compiling all of our data into a spreadsheet, we loaded the information into Arc GIS, creating a unique layer for each composer’s information.

Periodicals and Newspapers

Le Figaro

Le Ménestrel

New York Times



Halbreich, Harry. Arthur Honneger. Translated by Roger Nichols. Portland: Amadeus Press, 1999.

Milhaud, Madeleine. Catalogue des œuvres de Darius Milhaud. Paris: Slatkine, 1982.

Milhaud, Darius. My happy life. Translated by Donald Evans, Christopher Palmer, and George Hall. London: Marion Boyars, 1995.

Nichols, Roger. Conversations with Madeleine Milhaud. London: Faber and Faber, 1996.

Poulenc, Francis. Correspondance, 1910-1963. Edited by Myriam Chimènes. Paris: Fayard, 1994.

Walsh, Stephen. “Stravinsky, Igor.” Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press, accessed June 16, 2017,