Georges Delerue

Every once in a while I pull off a CD for evening’s listening by Georges Delerue, a French composer of film scores who died in 1992. He seemed to be best known for light playful scores for French films, such as the 1980 film A Little Romance, for which he won an Oscar, but my interest in him was for the lovely, delicate, melancholy scores he did for English-language films, including especially The Day of the Dolphin (with George C. Scott), Silkwood (Meryl Streep), Agnes of God, Julia, and especially Black Robe, my favorite. (He also did Platoon, though that score was dominated by Barber’s “Adagio for Strings”.)

Black Robe may be his best, most complex score of those I know, but my heart belongs to The Day of the Dolphin, a movie I first chanced upon on TV one day at home when I was 18, and was struck by the music. I didn’t see the full film until years later, but at some point I managed to tape record the music off the TV, and did a reduction/transcription of the theme onto a piano score, which hand-written sheet music I still have somewhere in my file cabinet. It’s lovely and heartbreaking. (I liked the movie more than many people, it seems, though I admit it has plausibility issues. The desolate finale is striking, especially since no film today would ever end that way.)

Here’s the main theme, starting at about :30s. (You don’t need to watch the video, actually; just listen to the music.)

I actually saw Delerue, at a special screening at the Nuart Theatre in West LA, obviously more than 20 years ago. I don’t remember of which film. I remember that he was very short.

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