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Georges Delerue

Georges Delerue

Composer Georges Delerue, once named “the Mozart of cinema” by the French newspaper Le Figaro, wrote more than 350 film and television scores, along with pop songs, ballads, and orchestral pieces. In the course of his work with such titans of cinema as Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut, Alain Resnais, Mike Nichols, and Oliver Stone, Delerue, a native of Roubaix, France, created some of the most evocative film music of all time. Although he was trained in metallurgy, and began his working life in a metal factory, his lineage was musical (grandfather a choral singer, mother a pianist), and he found himself drawn in that direction, first studying the clarinet and eventually beginning to compose. After doing some scoring for television and short films (including Agnès Varda’s early short L’opéra mouffe, which is available on Criterion’s edition of Cléo from 5 to 7), Delerue was approached by Resnais and Truffaut to write the themes to Hiroshima mon amour and Shoot the Piano Player, two works at the forefront of the French New Wave movement. The scores for which he is now best known followed close on their heels: his energetic, lovely melody for Jules and Jim and his grand, swoony, undulating theme for Contempt—the latter appropriated years later by Martin Scorsese for his 1995 drama Casino. Delerue’s stature grew, thanks to scores for such films as The Two of Us and King of Hearts, and eventually he would not only win an Oscar (for 1979’s A Little Romance) and three Césars in a row (for Get Out Your Handkerchiefs, Love on the Run, and The Last Metro) but also be named a Commander of Arts and Letters, one of France’s highest cultural honors. He came to Hollywood in the eighties and wrote music for Platoon, Beaches, and Steel Magnolias, among others. Delerue died in 1992.