Friday, March 12, 2010

Remembering Georges Delerue

George Delerue was born Georges Henri Jean-Baptiste Delerue on March 12, 1925, in Roubaix, Nord, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France. He was a composer who gained a vast amount of film composing experience over several decades. He studied at the Paris Conservatoire under Darius Milhaud and went on to score for French television programs and documentary films before making the transition to cinema music. Relatively early in his career he established a partnership with director Francois Truffaut starting with "Shoot the Pianist" and "Jules et Jim", which continued over an extended period. Similarly he worked several times with the director Philippe de Broca, with Gérard Oury on "Le Corniaud" (The Sucker) and "Le Cerveau" (The Brain) and with Jean-Luc Godard. Although the composer's prior experience was widely-based stylistically, from ballets and operas to these documentaries, many (though not all) of his early films were either comedies or satirical in nature, and Delerue's music of the period reflected this with a light touch and a whimsical tone - the French equivalent of the music of Nino Rota for Italian director Fellini. Nevertheless the worldwide reputation earned by these directors resulted in their films being dubbed into English and contributed to establishing the name of Georges Delerue among filmmakers.

Delerue then worked on a number of Hollywood productions, winning an Oscar for "A Little Romance" and gaining nominations for "Ann of a Thousand Days", "The Day of the Dolphin", "Julia" and "Agnes of God". His music of the period became less European but retained its warm lyrical nature. His work in Hollywood tended to be for Romantic and Sentimental dramas, so those few films which show a darker more complex side seem surprising in contrast. As has happened with many other film composers, there are at least two instances where Delerue's music for a film was either largely or completely replaced and, perhaps coincidentally, they are not typical of the composer's romantic output. With "Platoon", Oliver Stone had used Barber's "Adagio for Strings" as his temporary or "temp track" and commissioned Delerue to compose music in this style. In the end Stone kept Barber's moving music and this rather overshadowed the remaining parts of Delerue's score. However the composer's original music was recorded and has been released on CD together with another of Delerue's wartime scores from 1986, "Salvador". In the case of "Something Wicked This Way Comes" Delerue's music was completely replaced by an alternative from James Horner. Delerue scored only one Euro-western the 1965 film “Viva Maria”. Georges Delerue died on March 20, 1992. We remember this great composer today on what would have been his 85th birthday.

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