Born in Roubaix France on March 15th 1925, Georges Delerue was set to become one of the most celebrated composers of film and classical music in the 20th century. Although he was interested in music from an early age he was not particularly attracted to it over his normal school work and lessons. His Mother enrolled the young Delerue at the local music conservatory where he began to play clarinet at the age of fourteen but his interest in the instrument was outweighed by his love of playing with his school friends. During the early days of WW ll and aged nearly fifteen years old Delerue gave up his studies and began to work in a factory where his father was foreman so that he could support the family, but even though things were considerably difficult and bleak for his family they still encouraged Georges to follow a career in music and study hard. His Grandfather was a vocalist and also his Mother played piano and also sang and after being immersed in this atmosphere that was filled with music Delerue finally decided that he too would like to become involved in the writing and also the performance of music. He divided his day into two parts the first part was taken up with his work in the factory and the latter part of the day he would attend the conservatory, plus he would also perform clarinet with local bands.
As the war continued in Europe and Germany invaded Poland and France became ever threatened by the shadow of the Third Reich, many young men were enlisting in the army and other forces to protect their country, Delerue’s Mother feared for her son and persuaded him to study music more so that he might be enlisted into the relative safety of a military band, it was at this time that Delerue decided to change from his clarinet to piano as he was much more interested in this instrument. Delerue auditioned for Picavet Bacquart hoping that she would agree to be his tutor, after performing a piece by Mendelssohn she agreed to teach the young pianist and Delerue began his studies proper. Shortly after he began his piano studies he was diagnosed with scoliosis (curvature of the spine) and was coping well with the condition until he had an accident on his bicycle which resulted in him having surgery and being confined to bed for a while. It was during this period that the inner musician within him was released and he decided that he wanted to become a composer. Encouraged by a new director at the music conservatory Delerue begins to study full time. In 1945 Delerue graduates from the conservatory with second prize in clarinet, first prize for piano, chamber music and harmony, which earns him a place at the Paris conservatory of music where he continues his studies.
Although he had a scholarship living in the French capital one year after the war had ended proved difficult for Delerue so he began to earn money by performing at weddings, funerals and also in local bars etc. When playing at funerals Delerue started to perfect his organ playing but was also at this time was drawn to the jazz styles that were being played in Parisian bars and restaurants.
In 1948 Darius Milhaud becomes director of the National conservatory in Paris, Milhaud who had been in exile in the United States during the war years becomes a powerful influence in the career of Delerue and it was via his influences and advice that Delerue moved ever closer to the world of writing music for the theatre and eventually cinema. His career as a film music composer began in 1950, when he started to provide scores for short films, and between 1950 and 1957 the composer was kept busy working on theatrical productions and also working for French television which was at that time in its early days of development. In 1960, Delerue wrote his first film score for director Pierre Kast which was for a movie entitled LE BEL AGE it was also in 1960 that Delerue first collaborated with film makers Francois Truffant on SHOOT THE PIANO PLAYER and Philippe de Broca on THE LOVE GAME. In 1964 he was called upon by Ken Russell to score the film FRENCH DRESSING and Russell also made a film for the BBC about Delerue called DON’T SHOOT THE COMPOSER.
The sixties were a busy time for Delerue, in 1966 he worked on A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS for Fred Zinneman and also in that year composed the music for the ballet THE THREE MUSKETEERS. In 1967 he wrote the hymn OUR WORLD for British television and was honoured with an Emmy for his work in 1968. The rest as they say is history, Delerue’s music is elegant, fragile, haunting and melodic. It is beautifully simple but at the same time enticingly compelling and attractive. Film music without Georges Delerue would have been a rather ungracious and rather dull place. CRIMES OF THE HEART, A LITTLE ROMANCE, PLATOON, RICH IN LOVE, DAY OF THE DOLPHIN, THE FRENCH REVOLUTION, TRUE CONFESSIONS, THIBAUD THE CRUSADER, PROMISE AT DAWN, STEEL MAGNOLIAS, THE LAST METRO, THE BORGIAS, JULES ET JIM, SILKWOOD, THE 25TH HOUR, OUR MOTHERS HOUSE, DAY FOR NIGHT, THE WOMAN NEXT DOOR, AGNES OF GOD,BEACHES,INTERLUDE,MEMORIES OF ME, EXPOSED and many many more are scores that will forever be with us even though the composer has left us, he once said, “ JE NE CONCOIS PAS MA VIE SANS LA MUSIQUE”. (“ I CANNOT IMAGINE MY LIFE WITHOUT MUSIC”) Well I cannot imagine the world without the music of Georges Delerue. He passed away in 1992. Take a day soon listen to his music, marvel at his melodies and his talent, and be prepared to be overwhelmed with emotion.
“ MERCI POUR VOTRE MAESTRO DON PRECIEUX”