New Works: Winning Commissions & Losing

It sometimes happens that a commissioned work—even of a well-known composer—does not please the patron. But usually in such a case, the less said about it, the better; the patron either grits his teeth and holds a performance anyway, or he quietly shelves the work. Last week New Orleans Philharmonic Symphony Conductor Werner Torkanowsky broke this protocol by talking for the record about a commissioned work that he had rejected. And what made the case even more striking was the eminence of the composer: Darius Milhaud, 75, durable veteran of the historic Les Six group of French composers...