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Ecoutez le Cinéma !

The living memory of French films, in music 


The Cinema of Georges Delerue

Music famous or rare, arcane and previously unreleased.


6CD long-box set

Release date: November 17th


Since the origins of the Universal France Ecoutez le cinéma!* collection, composer Georges Delerue has established himself as one of its most emblematic figures, with Contempt, Jules and Jim and Police Python 357, together with anthologies devoted to his work in HiFi alongside François Truffaut and Philippe de Broca. This new opus is a luxury long-box set which is exceptional in both form and content: six CDs; a forty-four page booklet; seven hours of music; a flurry of previously-unreleased compositions; and scores that are sometimes famous, sometimes rare, including some that are now available here for the very first time. To achieve this unusual project, Georges Delerue's family granted access to the composer's personal archives, revealing a whole chapter of his work that had previously remained hidden. From the Nouvelle Vague to Platoon, and from Maurice Pialat to Oliver Stone, the life of the man and the artist gradually builds into a tangible picture, thanks to a substantial track-listing. This set is a must, especially for every fan of the work of a man whom British filmmaker Ken Russell considered to be "the greatest film-music composer of all time."


CD 1-4:  Feature-films, 1962-1992

CD 5:   Short-films and theme-music 

CD 6:   Television 


117 titles, 7 hours of music

44-page booklet

Testimonials by Agnès Varda, Bernardo Bertolucci, Claude Miller, Dan Carlin, Howard Shore, Norman Jewison, Bruce Beresford and Pierre Schoendoerffer

«Georges Delerue possessed a rare gift: the art of transforming a filmmaker's work. If your comedy-scene wasn't as funny as planned, Georges made it funnier. If you wanted sunshine and it was raining, he made the sun come out. Only God and Georges Delerue could perform miracles like that! It's why I did a documentary about Georges, a kind of homage to the greatest film-musician of all time.»


Dixit the tumultuous Ken Russell, a director literally inhabited by music. He was paying tribute to a brilliant character he'd worked with on a film-portrait (Don’t shoot the composer), on a feature-film (Women in love) and a friend with whom he'd shared years of brotherhood. If you listen to Russell, Delerue had not one, but several faces, like a Hindu god…

These different aspects were represented in the Ecoutez le cinéma ! collection right from the outset, with Godard and Contempt, his long-haul associations with Truffaut and de Broca, his rapports with jazz (Calmos and its thriller-scores), not to mention his contemporary, full-frontal inspiration when he had Everests to climb, like Police Python 357 or Quelque part, quelqu’un. The career of the man lasted through forty years of international filmmaking, yet one thing was missing: a large-scale synthesis with an unusual format. But tackling such an unreasonable project means you can also make an old dream come true: strip out all the rushes, and save every one of the master tapes in the Delerue archives, preciously kept in France and The United States. It also meant working like a slave for eighteen months: with a rhythm spread over six seasons, we had meetings at regular intervals with Colette Delerue and sound-engineer Christophe Henault.


We spent days together that were often exciting, and sometimes more of a switchback-ride, alternating unlucky cards with the discovery of unsuspected gems. In the shadows of the studio, ancient decks made by Studer even welcomed tapes which, in their great majority, hadn't spun round a reel for decades. Their state of preservation turned out to be quite variable, and sometimes they betrayed the devastating effects of moisture (in which case, only one remedy would suffice: a trip to the tape-oven with the timer set to eight hours, minimum). Over eighteen months of patience (sometimes just through stubbornness), we put together a puzzle, piece by piece, some five thousand of them. And we did so by respecting to the letter a single, simple, basic methodology: «Let's continue exploring the most distant corners of this vast land; and once we've found all the pieces, then we can start the framework, and think hard about the programme, its order, structure and form.»


Our long quest, once completed by material supplied by French publishers and Hollywood majors, turned out to represent some fourteen hours of stock. So then we had to start trimming it down, and lose ballast so we could gain altitude… which, in reality, meant forgetting certain classics already published in the collection: Jules and Jim, Contempt, King of Hearts, Day for Night, That Most Important Thing: Love etc. Why bother republishing scores that were already available, we wondered... especially if it was to the detriment of other, rare - if not secret - works for which this anthology remained the only chance of exposure?

In choosing to stray off the beaten track, we found that the very concept of the project had shifted, too; instead of a general-interest anthology, we found we now had a selective, free-and-easy, sentimental stroll through American or British productions that ranged from the incunabula to be found in short-films, a genre that was Delerue's foster-family in the cinema, to jingles, signature-tunes, telefilms and television series that had long been buried somewhere in the depths of our memories. In a word, it was a whole section of the deleruesque opus that we'd never imagined we'd bring to light.

The result is a tribute to Delerue that has been purposefully amputated: gone are his most exploited scores, and some of those had (almost) reached saturation anyway. So this, then, was our purpose, the paradox in the ambition of this Cinéma de Georges Delerue, whose subtitle is Music famous or rare, arcane and previously unreleased.  


Throughout this musical marathon, there's no lack of surprise, with revelations from the deadly charm of Rapture to the work-session for Viva Maria! (listen to Delerue's pom, pom), from far-off adventures à la Horsemen to the modern language in the scores written for Belgian short-film director Jacques Kupissonoff (for confirmation, hit the track-button for Lautréamont).


Inside this set, 'mere details' (the sparkling bossa written for Jacques Tati) hold their hands out to essentials (like Dien Bien Phu and its Farewell Concerto). While the programme runs, the mosaic gradually fills out, polishing itself in between neo-baroque pieces and waltzes from the suburbs, Ellington jazz and dodecaphonic pieces...

This is Delerue the artist and the man, with his shares of clarity and obscurity, certainties and contradictions, gradually taking shape over six discs and some seven hours of music. Inside, you can hear his lucky-mascot soloists (harpist Lily Laskine, sitar-player Monique Rollin); you can make some of the more exotic curiosities easier to get on with (the Gaumont jingles, or the little treatise on orchestration from Point d’interrogation); and you can even succumb to the power in his scores for some decisive works, including those misunderstood by studios, like the hypnotic, original soundtrack for Something Wicked This Way Comes, whose dark lyricism put a scare into Walt Disney executives.

«And yet, confessed the composer, it was probably the most ambitious, most impolite score I wrote in The United States.» Here, then, is an invitation to travel with Georges Delerue, one of the rare French composers to have crossed so easily from Agnès Varda to Oliver Stone, on a journey between expressions of intimacy and the spectacular, from the dawn of Maurice Pialat to the twilight of George Cukor, from the New Novel (the seminal Les Gommes) to the wild stampedes of The Black Stallion, from The Day of the Jackal to The Day of the Dolphin. Publishing an anthology is a struggle against dwindling time and the erosion of memory. It's also an obstinate way of continuing to refer to Georges Delerue in the present tense.


Stéphane Lerouge

Translation: Martin Davies



about french composer

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Georges Delerue - Official Website

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