Georges Delerue - Writer




Composer. Nationality: French. Born: Roubaix, 12 March 1925. Studied under Milhaud and Henry Busser at the Paris Conservatory. Family: Married Micheline Gautron, 1959; one daughter and one step-daughter. Career: Conductor, composer, of orchestra and stage works; 1950—first work for films; also much work for TV; 1984—worked in Hollywood. Awards: Academy Award for A Little Romance , 1979; Commandeur de l'ordre des Arts et des Lettres. Died: In Los Angeles, California, 20 March 1992.


Films as Composer (Shorts):

1950

Le Mystère du Quai Conti (Lacoste)

1952

Les Ingénieurs de la mer (Renaud)

1953

"L'Aventure" et ses Terre-Nuevas (Renaud); Au rythme du siècle (Champetier); Berre, cité du pétrole (Champetier); Avec les pilotes de porte-avions (Galey)

1954

La Grande Cité ( Angkor ) (Rouy); Madagascar (Rouy); Au pays de Guillaume le Conquérant (Wronecki); Regards sur l'Indochine (Rouy)

1955

Ame d'argile (Toublanc-Michel); La Cité d'argent (Galey); Première croisière (Renaud)

1956

Tu enfanteras sans douleur (Fabiani and Dalmas); La Rue chinoise (Loriquet); Marche française (Fabiani and Vogel); Le Corbusier, l'architecte du bonheur (Kast) (co)

1957

Portrait de la France (Fabiani); Morts en vitrine (Vogel); Les Surmenés (Doniol-Valcroze); Courses d'obstacles (Berr); Chères vieilles choses (Vogel)

1958

Les Centrales de la mine (Gillet); I'Ile de sein (Vogel); L'Opéra-Mouffe (Varda); Mam' zelle Souris series (Paviot) (co); OCIL 1958 (Berr); Europe (Biro, Pagliero, and Weber); La Première Nuit (Franju); Du côté de la côte (Varda); Le Sourire (Bourguignon); Images pour Baudelaire (Kast); Zinc laminé et architecture (Berr); Le Siècle a soif (Vogel); Le Dragon de Komodo (Bourdelon); Des ruines et des hommes (Kast and Lioret)

1959

La Mer et les jours (Vogel); Le Montreur d'ombres (Bourguignon); Images des mondes perdus (Lifschitz); L'Age des artères (Berr); Prélude pour orchestre, voix, et caméra (Arcady); L'Etoile de mer (Bourguignon); Le Mal des autres (Logereau); Entre la terre et le ciel (Volardebo); Escale (Bourguignon); Une Question d'assurance (Kast); Images de Sologne (de Roubaix); Le Pont de Tancarville (Champetier)

1960

Allumorphoses (Rhein); Plaisir de plaire (Lecomte); Dorothea Tanning, ou le regard ébloui (Desvilles); Des hommes . . . une doctrine (Catenys); La Fleuve invisible (Vilardebo); Naissance du plutonium (Hulin); Diagnostic C.I.V. (Fabiani); Le Vaisseau sur la colline (Marcilly); Picasso, romancero du picador (Desvilles); Architecture et chauffage d'aujourd'hui (Berr); Les Etudiants (Grospierre); Sahara an IV (Gerard); Prenez des gants (Billon) (co); Brevet de pilote No. 1: Bleriot (Galey); El Gassi (Heinrich); Fruits communs (Forestier); Des gouts et des couleurs (Gerard); Neuf étages tout acier (Wronecki) (co)

1961

Les Hommes du pétrole (Heinrich and Chapot); Son et Lumière (Béranger); Les Guêpes (Dhuit); L'Amour existe (Pialat); Enez Eussa ( L'Ile d'Ouessant ) (Page and Gestin); La Parole est du fleuve (Vetusto and Oswald); Horizons nouveaux (Gillet); La Balayeur (Desvilles); Les Chevaux de Vaugirard (Grospierre)

1962

Les Autogrimpeurs (Languepin); Les Héros de l'air (Laurent and Mitry); Chateaux stop . . . sur la Loire (Vernick and Desvilles); Le Champ du possible (Toublanc-Michel); On a volé la mer (Salvy); La Naturalisée (Cuniot); Le Bureau des mariages (Bellon); Exemple Etretat (Lepeuve); Six petites bougies (Cotton); Le Chemin de la terre (Menezgoz); Le Rendez-vous d'Asnières (Gruel); Un Prince belge de l'Europe: Charles-Joseph de Ligne ( Prince de Ligne ) (Kupissonoff); Palissades (Potignat); La Contrebasse (Fasquel); Le Cousin de Callao (Pierre); Exposition Française à Moscou (Pagliero) (co)

1963

Route sans sillage (Menegoz); Le Monde des marais (Dhuit); Le Bosphore (Pialat); Le Soir de notre vie (Valentin); Corne d'or (Pialat); Eves futures (Baratier)

1964

Apparences (Kupissonoff); A (Lenica); La Rose et le sel (Champion); L'Impasse d'un matin (Desvilles); La Montagne vivante (Dhuit)

1965

Le Voix d'orly (Lachenay); Vive le Tour! (Malle and Ertaud); Le Dernier Refuge (Puzenat)

1966

Une Alchimie (Kupossonoff); La Revue blanche (Ferreux); Le Cours d'une vie (Desvilles and Darribehaude) (co); Louis Lecoin (Desvilles and Darribehaude) (co)

1967

Paris au temps des cerises: La Commune (Desvilles and Darribehaude) (co); Le Temps redonné (Fabiani and Levi-Alvares) (co)

1968

Le Violon de Crémone (Kupissonoff)

1969

Le Jeu de la puce (Desvilles)



Films as Composer (Features):

1959

Le Bel Age (Kast) (co); Hiroshima mon amour (Resnais) (waltz); Une Fille pour l'été (Molinaro); Marche ou crève (Lautner)

1960

Classe tous risques ( The Big Risk ) (Sautet); Les Jeux de l'amour (de Broca); "La Femme seule" ep. of La Française et l'amour ( Love and the Frenchwoman ) (Le Chanois); Tirez sur le pianiste ( Shoot the Piano Player ) (Truffaut); Arretez les tambours (Lautner); La Recreation (Moreuil); La Mort de Belle (Molinaro); La Morte-Saison de amours (Kast)

1961

Le Farceur ( The Joker ) (de Broca); L'Amant de cinq jours ( The Five Day Lover ) (de Broca); Une Aussi Longue Absence ( The Long Absence ) (Colpi); En plein cirage (Lautner); La Denonciation (Don iol-Valcroze); Le Petit Garçon de l'ascenseur (Granier-Deferre)

1962

L'Amour à vingts ans ( Love at 20 ) (Truffaut and Ophüls); Le Monte-charge (Bluwal); Le Crime ne paie pas ( Crime Does Not Pay ) (Oury); Le Bonheur est pour demain (Fabiani) (co); Jules et Jim ( Jules and Jim ) (Truffaut); Jusqu'au bout du monde (Villiers); L'Immortelle (Robbe-Grillet); Rififi à Tokyo (Deray); Vacances portugaises (Kast); Cartouche (de Broca); L'Affaire Nina B. ( The Nina B. Affair ) (Siodmak)

1963

L'Abominable Homme des douanes (M. Allégret); Hitler . . . connais pas (Blier); Nunca pasa nada (Bardem); L'Honorable Stanislas, agent secret (Dudrumet); L'Ainé des Ferchaux (Melville); Le Journal d'un fou (Coggio); Chair de poule (Duvivier); Le Mépris ( Contempt ) (Godard); L'Homme de Rio ( That Man from Rio ) (de Broca); Du grabuge chez les veuves (Poitrenaud); French Dressing (Russell); Cent Mille Dollars au soleil (Verneuil); Muriel (Resnais) (song)

1964

Des pissenlits par la racine (Lautner); La Peau douce ( The Soft Skin ) (Truffaut); The Pumpkin Eater (Clayton); Le Gros Coup (Valere); L'Amour à la chaîne (de Givray); L'Autre Femme (Villiers); Laissez tirer les tireurs (Lefranc); L'Insoumis (Cavalier); Un Monsieur de compagnie ( Male Companion ) (de Broca); Lucky Jo (Deville); L'Age ingrat (Grangier); Mata-Hari, Agent H-21 (Richard); Le Corniaud (Oury)

1965

Los pianos mécanicos ( The Uninhibited ) (Barden); Rapture (Guillermin); Viva Maria! (Malle); Pleins feux sur Stanislas (Dudrumet); Les Tribulations d'un chinois en Chine ( Up to His Ears ) (de Broca); Le Bestiaire d'amour (Calderon)

1966

Le Roi de coeur ( King of Hearts ) (de Broca); A Man for All Seasons (Zinnemann); La Vingt-cinquième heure ( The 25th Hour ) (Verneuil); Le Vieil Homme et l'enfant ( The Two of Us ) (Berri); Mona, l'étoile sans nom (Colpi); Jeudi on chantera comme dimanche (de Heusch); Derrière la fenêtre (Schmidt) (co)

1967

Our Mother's House (Clayton); Oscar (Molinaro); La Petite Vertu (Korber)

1968

Les Cracks (Joffé); Les Gommes (Deroisy); Interlude (Billington); Nobody Runs Forever ( The High Commissioner ) (Thomas); Le Diable par la queue ( The Devil by the Tail ) (de Broca)

1969

Le Cerveau (Oury); A Walk with Love and Death (Huston); Hibernatus (Molinaro); Women in Love (Russell); Anne of the Thousand Days (Jarrott); Les Caprices de Maria ( Give Her the Moon ) (de Broca)

1970

Il conformista ( The Conformist ) (Bertolucci); Heureux qui comme Ulysse (Colpi); Comptes à rebours (Pigaut); The Horsemen (Frankenheimer)

1971

La Promesse de l'aube ( Promise at Dawn ) (Dassin); Les Aveux les plus doux (Molinaro); L'Ingénu (Carbonnaux); Deux anglaises et le continent ( Two English Girls ) (Truffaut); Mira (Rademakers)

1972

Malpertuis (Kumel); Chère Louise (de Broca); Une Belle Fille comme moi ( Such a Gorgeous Kid Like Me ) (Truffaut); Quelque part, quelqu'un (Bellno)

1973

The Day of the Jackal (Zinnemann); La Nuit américaine ( Day for Night ) (Truffaut); Angela (Van Der Heyde); The Day of the Dolphins (Nichols); La Femme de Jean (Bellon)

1974

La Gifle ( The Slap ) (Pinoteau); L'Important c'est d'aimer ( The Most Important Thing: Love ) (Zulawski)

1975

L'Incorrigible (de Broca); Calmos (Blier); Jamais plus toujours (Bellon); Oublie-moi Mandoline (Wyn); Police Python 357 (Corneau)

1977

Julia (Zinnemann); Julie Pot de Colle (de Broca); Le Point de mire ( Focal Point ) (Tramont); Tendre poulet ( Dear Inspector ) (de Broca); Va voir Maman . . . Papa travaille ( Go See Mother . . . Father Is Working ; Your Turn, My Turn ) (Leterrier); Preparez vos mouchoirs ( Get Out Your Handkerchiefs ) (Blier)

1978

La Petite Fille en velour bleu ( The Little Girl in Blue Velvet ) (Bridges); Le Cavaleur ( Practice Makes Perfect ) (de Broca)

1979

L'Amour en fuite ( Love on the Run ) (Truffaut); A Little Romance (Hill); An Almost Perfect Affair (Ritchie)

1980

Le Dernier Métro ( The Last Metro ) (Truffaut); Garde a vue ( Under Suspicion ) (Miller)

1981

Rich and Famous (Cukor); True Confessions (Grosbard); Richard's Things (Harvey); La Femme d'à côté ( The Woman Next Door ) (Truffaut); La Passante du Sans-Souci ( La Passante ) (Rouffio)

1982

A Little Sex (Paltrow); La Vie continue (Mizrahi); The Escape Artist (Deschanel); Partners (Borrows)

1983

Vivement dimanche! ( Finally, Sunday! ) (Truffaut); L'Eté meurtrier ( One Deadly Summer ) (Becker); The Black Stallion Returns (Dalva); Man, Woman, and Child (Richards); Silkwood (Nichols); Exposed (Toback)

1984

Femmes de personne ( Nobody's Women ) (Frank); Love Thy Neighbor (Bill)

1985

Agnes of God (Jewison); Maxie (Aaron)

1986

Conseil de famille (Costa Gavras); Crimes of the Heart (Beresford); Déscente aux enfers (Girod); Mesmerized (Laughlin); Platoon (Stone); Salvador (Stone)

1987

Un Homme amoreux ( A Man in Love ) (Kurys); The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne (Clayton); Maid to Order (Jones); The Pick-Up Artist (Toback); Summer Heat (Gleason)


1988

Paris by Night (Hare); Beaches (G. Marshall); Biloxi Blues (Nichols); Chouans! (de Broca); Heartbreak Hotel (Columbus); The House on Carroll Street (Yates); Memories of Me (Winkler); Popielusko ; A Summer Story (Haggard); Twins (Reitman)

1989

Der Aten ; Hard to Be a God (Fleischmann); Her Alibi (Beresford); La Révolution française (Guillermin); Seven Minutes (Meyer); Steel Magnolias (Ross); Strapless (Hare)

1990

Mister Johnson ( Mr. Johnson ) (Beresford); Cadence (Sheen); Joe versus the Volano (Shanley); A Show of Force (Barretto)

1991

La Reine blanche (Hubert); Curly Sue (Hughes)

1992

Céline (Brisseau); The Josephine Baker Story (Gibson—for TV)



Films as Music Director:

1954

La Pointe-Courte (Varda—short)

1955

Nuit et brouillard (Resnais—short)

1956

Dimanche à Pekin (Marker—short); Novembre à Paris (Reichenbach—short); Toute la mémoire du monde (Resnais—short); Les Sorcières de Salem (Rouleau—short)

1957

Le Mystère de l'atelier 15 (Resnais and Heinrich—short); La Joconde (Gruel—short); Lettre de Sibérie (Marker—short); Le Chant du styrène (Resnais—short); Notre-Dame, cathédrale de Paris (Franju—short)

1958

André Masson et les quatre éléments (Grémillon—short)

1959

Haim Soutine (Brabo—short); Vacances au paradis (L'Hôte—short)

1961

L'Ondomane (Arcady)

1962

Marquet (Megret); Mais où sont les nègres d'antan? (Martin and Boschet)

1963

. . . à Valparaiso (Ivens)



Film as Arranger:

1957

Si le roi savait ça (Canaille—short)



Publications


By DELERUE: articles—

Cinéma (Paris), no. 89, 1964.

Ecran (Paris), September 1975.

Cinéma (Paris), July-August 1980.

Soundtrack! (Hollywood), August and Fall 1980.

Soundtrack! (Hollywood), June 1982.

Télérama (Paris), 9–15 March 1985.

Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), no. 393, March 1987.

Soundtrack! (Hollywood), vol. 7, no. 27, September 1988.

Soundtrack! (Hollywood), vol. 9, no. 33, March 1990.


On DELERUE: articles—

Chaplin (Stockholm), no. 2, 1970.

Films in Review (New York), March 1970.

Film Français (Paris), 2 February 1979.

Soundtrack! (Hollywood), April 1980.

Film Français (Paris), 16 January 1981.

Film Français (Paris), 2 March 1984.

Soundtrack! (Hollywood), vol. 8, nos. 29, 30 and 31, March, June and September 1989.


* * *


A former student of the French composer Darius Milhaud, Georges Delerue created some of the most aggressively romantic film music in cinema history. Delerue's many scores include his work for Jean-Luc Godard's Contempt , François Truffaut's Shoot the Piano Player and Jules and Jim , as well as the music for the classic films Hiroshima mon amour , The Pumpkin Eater , That Man from Rio , King of Hearts , and A Man for All Seasons . Indeed, one of the hallmarks of Delerue's career was his ability to compose excellent scores with remarkable facility and speed, borrowing from himself from time to time, but on the whole creating work of vigor, beauty, and instantly identifiable originality.

As Truffaut's principal scorer, Delerue's music for both the director's early and late films ( Day for Night and Love on the Run being two of the later efforts) became as much a part of the director's vision as Truffaut's lyrical visual compositions and gently elegiac evocations of youthful excess and innocence. Delerue's music is typically lushly orchestrated, with delicately melancholic undertones, and a remarkable sense of both "place," and the irrecoverable past. Delerue's music for Day for Night is in many ways the culmination of his long collaboration with the gifted director. In this gently tragic film of the passion that must necessarily go into the making of any movie, Delerue becomes a character in Truffaut's "movie within the movie," as he plays his "proposed" score over a long distance telephone hookup for Truffaut's approval. Truffaut listens as he peruses a number of books on film history which have just arrived for him; within 30 seconds, he has approved the score and hung up. Clearly, Truffaut has worked with Delerue for so long on so many projects that there is an unspoken language between them; Truffaut does not need to hear the entire score to know what Delerue is up to. In this scene, both men are professionals, each working under a tight deadline to create a work of art. They have no time for pleasantries, but they need none. The finished film will be a coherent whole, with the music perfectly underscoring Truffaut's visuals, which Delerue has, at that point, not even seen. Delerue's score for Contempt , one of Jean-Luc Godard's most deeply felt and somber works, and also a film about the making of a film (albeit more tangentially than Day for Night ), comprises little more than 15 minutes of music in all. But Delerue's two main themes, with variations, are repeated continually throughout the film by Godard, lending a tragic intensity to the doomed romance of the scriptwriter (Michel Piccoli) and his wife (Brigitte Bardot). Delerue's music also meshes expertly with the film within Contempt , Fritz Lang's fragmented attempt to make a film of the Odyssey for producer Jack Palance. By the end of the film, Delerue's score has become, through insistent repetition, a metaphor for the inexorable sweep of events which governs the characters' actions. Certainly, both scores are remarkable achievements, and they stand as some of the finest work Delerue ever produced.

One is constantly struck by the fact that Delerue's scores for individual films seem to be part of one large whole. Many of his soundtracks seem, on first hearing, to be quite similar, and certainly his scores repeat a number of themes which are obviously dear to the composer's heart. However, the variations which Delerue created from these themes are unique, and one can no more criticize him for this practice than one could call Bach to task for writing The Goldberg Variations . Delerue never tried to be what he was not: he was a romantic, a man with one foot in the early 20th century (Milhaud, Honegger, Auric, Poulenc), and the other foot firmly striding forward.

Although it has not generally been commented upon, my own feeling is that Delerue was most deeply influenced as a composer by the work of Jean-Jacques Grünenwald, the brilliant French composer who wrote the music for Robert Bresson's masterpieces Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne (1945) and Diary of a Country Priest (1950). Grünenwald's scores are invariably more austere and tragic than Delerue's, but they share a common interest in full orchestral arrangements, and a sense of depth which refuses to be wholly frivolous. There is at times a frank commerciality in some of Delerue's music, as in his perfunctory score for A Man for All Seasons , which seems dashed off with little care or concern. In addition to his work in films, Delerue wrote regularly for French TV, the stage, and the ballet. With this considerable output, it is inevitable that some of his work was second-rate, and perhaps this willingness to work on almost any project sometimes mitigated against his wider acceptance as one of the truly great film composers. But although the number of his scores is prodigious, Delerue displayed an unwavering sensibility which was entirely his own, and in his best work he succeeded brilliantly.

—Wheeler Winston Dixon



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