GEORGES DELERUE OFFICIAL
THE GEORGES DELERUE MUSEUM
OFFICIAL WEBSITE ANNEXE
MUSIC FOR THEATER
HE LEFT HIS MARK ON A WHOLE GENERATION OF COMPOSERS.
HIS UNIQUE, UNFORGETTABLE WORKS HAVE TRAVELLED
TO THE FOUR CORNERS OF THE WORLD…
Paris - Avignon… The curtain rises
In 1948, at the Paris Conservatory, Georges Delerue was diligently preparing for a career as a composer and conductor of classical music. His professor was Darius Milhaud, a man with an open mind and for whom Delerue had deep respect. In that same year the city of Avignon was preparing to open the second year of its Theater Festival. Jean Vilar was preparing Jules Supervielle’s "Sheherazade" for which Darius Milhaud
Arriving in Avignon, with his recently won Prix de Rome, Delerue was welcomed at the railroad station by the demanding Vilar : “Congratulations, Delerue. Now let’s see how good you really are.”
That year’s program also included Buchner’s Danton’s Death, and Vilar asked Delerue to write the music for that difficult play, a rather hurried commission for the young composer. But there began his theatrical career in music.
Avignon was a turning point in Delerue’s life, a time of intellectual discovery. The intelligence of Jean Vilar and contact with exuberant or eccentric but talented and passionate actors, with whom he became friends, opened up the rather shy young man to a culture beyond music. He began to take an interest in great classical texts and in history. Delerue worked often with the unforgettable Jean Vilar until 1963. Afterwards he worked with another great theater man of the day, Raymond Hermantier, whom he had met at the Paris Conservatory.
During these exiting but also financially lean years, his introduction to Paris’s Théâtre Babylone in 1952 would influence the rest of Delerue’s life.
This little theater house, run by Jean-Marie Serreau, would prove to be an extraordinary melting-pot of different kinds of talent. It became the gathering place of a lively and productive group of writers, actors, poets, directors, musicians, and even painters who exhibited their work in the theater foyer.
There Delerue would meet Eugene Ionesco, Arthur Adamov, Samuel Beckett, Maurice Jarre, Michel Piccoli and, most important, Boris Vian with whom Delerue immediately developed a close relationship.
Vian, a man of eclectic intelligence, was already known as the author of controversial novels such as L’Ecume des jours (1947 : Mood Indigo, 1968) et J'irai cracher sur vos tombes, 1946 (I Shall Spit on Your Graves). Vian enticed Delerue into the bold adaptation of an episode taken from King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.
The result was "The Chevalier de Neige" (The Snow Knight), which was presented for the first time in the summer of 1953 to the acclaim of the fifty thousand or so spectators who came to see it over six days.
In 1959, Vian and Delerue would work again on another play "Les Bâtisseurs d’Empire", which was done at the Théâtre Récamier in Paris.
In 1961, Delerue would compose for the hilarious spectacle put on by Raymond Devos, "Les Pupitres" (The Music Stands), which played to a sold-out theater night after night.
George Delerue’s talents complemented those of many great writers, poets, directors, performers Jean-Paul Sartre, Marguerite Duras, Eugène Ionesco, Molière, Jean Giraudoux, Shakespeare, Alexis Arbuzov, August Strindberg, Jean Vilar, Raymond Hermantier, Georges Wilson, Jean-Marie Serreau, Jacques Mauclair, Jean Louis Barrault.
All such creative energies enlivened Delerue’s imagination and he, in turn, put his musical talents wonderfully at their service.
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