GEORGES DELERUE OFFICIAL 
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HE LEFT HIS MARK ON A WHOLE GENERATION OF COMPOSERS.
HIS UNIQUE, UNFORGETTABLE WORKS HAVE TRAVELLED 
TO THE FOUR CORNERS OF THE WORLD…

Even Dancing Cows Need Good Music

In the 1950s, hardships in the wake of the Second World War endured but were gradually disappearing in France, where American films began to draw larger and larger audiences. The great Westerns of the day and musical comedies, like Singing in the Rain (1952) were great favorites amongst the French audiences that flocked to the local movie houses.

Anyone who went to the movies in France in those days remembers the last show of the day with its refreshment pause and the hostess who sold ice cream and candy. During this break, advertising appeared on the screen. Television was just off to start with only one channel that broadcast only in the evening for a few thousand privileged viewers. The movie theater was still the place to catch the eye and ear of the consumer.

In 1955, Georges Delerue, whose name could be seen in the screen credits for twenty or so short subjects, began to compose for movie theater publicity spots as a way of making ends meet.

Efficient publicity technique commonly needs musicians who have a good eye for the ways of Images and who can also write catchy jingles or melodies.

 “It is more difficult to write a minute of effective music of this kind than it is to write a symphonic music of 45 minutes. I learned the craft of composing for feature films by composing music for advertisements and short films.”

 

It was thus that he composed melodies for the brand names Liebig, Celamine, Mercier champagne, the publishing house Larousse, and others. He would often point to his music of 1958 for the Chantelle Girdle, based on choral music which was played to stroboscopic lighting.

In 1979, Claude Chabrol directed a publicity spot for Perrier, which played upon a bottle that gradually expanded in size until it blew its cap and the bubbly water came streaming out. To accompany this, Delerue wrote a piece that pastiched Max Steiner’s music for Gone With the Wind and which humorously played on the timelessness of water.

But the censors judged these kinds of images a bit too suggestive and simply forbade their distribution. It is unlikely that they would raise many eyebrows today.

Delerue’s humorous publicity had made its mark long before in 1958 when, with the words of Henri Colpi, a famous film editor, he composed for the bouillon cube Maggi in a publicity spot called Opéra Boeuf. Real cows and steers danced to Delerue’s parody of a cancan and sang the glories of the little Maggi  bouillon cube, a common ingredient of traditional French beef stew.  

 

Three months of special effects and editing were needed to complete this charming bit of nonsense that ran for one minute and ten seconds.

The young director Philippe de Broca laughed at that publicity spot and remembered it when he met its composer, whom he asked him to do the music for his first feature film, Les Jeux de L’Amour ,1959 (The Love game). This would be the first work in many years of collaboration between De Broca and Delerue.

Georges Delerue would now and then do more publicity work out of friendship for certain film-makers. He sometimes expressed his nostalgia for a time when it was possible to do such effective commercial work with real aesthetic pleasure

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