Though perhaps most familiar for the standard "Autumn Leaves," composer Joseph Kosma also scored several of the greatest films in cinematic history, including a series of pictures for legendary director Jean Renoir. Born in Budapest, Hungary, on October 22, 1905, he studied at the Budapest Conservatory, earning a scholarship to the Berlin Opera before joining Bertolt Brecht's touring company in 1929. Working alongside Kurt Weill and Hanns Eisler proved a major influence on Kosma's own work as he began writing his earliest film scores. After settling in Paris in 1933, he began his collaboration with Renoir on 1936's Le Crime de Monsieur Lange; their partnership subsequently yielded 1937's La Grande Illusion and 1939's La Règle du Jeu, both deserving of serious consideration among the finest motion pictures ever made. Kosma also scored the 1945 Marcel Carné classic Les Enfants du Paradis; that same year, the composer also teamed with the film's screenwriter, Jacques Prévert, on the ballet Rendezvous. He and Prévert also collaborated on a number of songs, including the 1947 perennial "Autumn Leaves" (adapted in English by Johnny Mercer). By and large, Kosma's compositions gravitated more toward classical themes than pop, including the 1954 operetta Les Chansons de Bilitis and a handful of comic operas, including 1962's Un Amour Electronique and 1964's La Revolte des Canuts. He died near Paris on August 7, 1969.
Share this page