Born on 12 March 1925, Georges Delerue was a French composer who became most famous thanks to his myriad film scores.
A contemporary of Pierre Boulez and Maurice Jarre, composer Georges Delerue initially found his musical voice with the clarinet. Quickly moving onto the piano and then composition, the ambitious musician earned a crust playing in Paris piano bars while studying the music of Bach, Mozart and Richard Strauss at the city’s conservatoire.
Though he would compose orchestral, instrumental and chamber works, Delerue cut his teeth in the theatre writing incidental music, ballet scores and a handful of operas. It would be the screen, though, where the composer would ultimately make his name.
Starting with television scores and a tenure as conductor of France National Radio & TV’s resident orchestra in the early '50s, a first film score came in 1959 – for Le bel âge. That score marked the beginning of three decades that would set Georges Delerue apart as one of the country’s most successful film composers. Films with new wave directors such as Jean-Luc Godard, Alain Resnais and François Truffaut made international producers and directors sit up and take notice.
One of his most fruitful collaborations was with the British director Jack Clayton, a creative partnership that continued right up until the composer’s death in 1992 and, following an Oscar-win for A Little Romance (1979), Hollywood came calling. Indeed, some of his most recognisable work actually came in the last decade of his career.
Delerue's style was effortlessly melodic and beautifully romantic; Le Figaro once described him as 'The Mozart of Cinema', and with over 350 screen credits to his name, Georges Delerue was truly one of the screen's most prolific masters.
Notable concert works…
A Regrettable Incident (Oratorio)
The Barker (Ballet)
The Snow Knight (Opera)
Concert Symphony for Piano & Orchestra
Concerto de l’Adieu
Notable film scores…
Hiroshima mon amour (1959)
Jules et Jim (1962)
The Day of the Jackal (1973)
A Little Romance (1979)
Agnes of God (1985)
Steel Magnolias (1989)
Joe Versus the Volcano (1990)
Michael is the Reviews Editor of BBC Music Magazine. He was previously a freelance film music journalist and spent 15 years at St George's Bristol. Michael specialises in film and television music and was the Editor of MusicfromtheMovies.com. He has written for the BBC Proms, BBC Concert Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Albert Hall, Hollywood in Vienna and Silva Screen Records.