Louis Durey was the son of a businessman. He had no idea that he wanted to be a composer until he heard the opera Pélléas et Mélisande by Claude Debussy. He was then already 19 years old. He taught himself how to compose.
Durey became a member of the group called Les Six in 1920. However, he did not take part in the music they wrote together in 1921 called Les Mariés de la Tour Eiffel. This made Jean Cocteau very annoyed.
Durey became interested in left-wing politics and later joined the Communist Party. During the years of the Nazi occupation of World War II, he worked with the French Resistance and wrote anti-Fascist songs. After the war he had strong Communist ideas. This made it difficult for him to be successful in the world of music. In 1950 he got the job of music critic for a communist newspaper in Paris.