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Overview (3)

Born in Budapest, Austria-Hungary [now Hungary]
Died in La Roche-Guyon, Val-d'Oise, France
Birth NameJozsef Kozma

Mini Bio (1)

Joseph Kosma was born in Budapest. He took an interest in music at a very young age, writing an opera called "Noel dans les Tranchées" as a teenager. One of his greatest loves in Budapest was the music of Bela Bartok. Finding the political atmosphere to be more and more oppressive in Budapest, Kosma moved to Berlin where he joined Bertolt Brecht's traveling theater troupe (Kosma was a friend of a friend of Brecht's wife). Once fascism was clearly on the rise in Berlin, Kosma headed for Paris, without knowing a word of French.

In Paris, Kosma eventually met Jacques Prévert. The pair went on to create around 80 songs, with Kosma setting Prévert's poems to music (and in a few instances, the other way around). Prévert introduced Kosma to Renoir (Prévert had written The Crime of Monsieur Lange (1936)), and one of Kosma's songs ended up in the film. Next, Kosma wrote the score for _Une partie de campagne (1936)_), which was not released until after the Second World War.

Kosma then met Marcel Carné through Prévert. Kosma went on to work for Carné through the Occupation - while hiding in the South of France, because he was a Jew. While in hiding, Kosma ended up writing uncredited scores for Les Visiteurs du Soir (1942)) and Children of Paradise (1945))- though Kosma actually ended up with his name in the credits for this latter film, because the fall of the Nazis was imminent as the film was nearing completion.

Kosma is perhaps most famous for his song "Les Feuilles Mortes" ("Autumn Leaves"), which has been covered by many jazz musicians in many different countries. The piece was originally written for an opera called "Le Rendez-vous", which Prévert and Kosma then convinced Carné to turn into a film. The film changed its name to Gates of the Night (1946), after a Prévert lyric from another song, to avoid confusion with another film that had recently been released. The film was the most costly film to date in the French film industry (Les Enfants du Paradis had been before this), but failed at the box office, though critics praised the music.

In the postwar years, Kosma wrote numerous notable scores, particularly the score for the haunting and disturbing film, Blood of the Beasts (1949). Kosma continued to work on film scores until his death, though in his last years he focused on his first love, music for theater, composing the operas "Les Hussards" and "Les Canuts". The Kosma/Carné/Prévert team gradually drifted apart, and Kosma remarks in his journals that his two old friends did not come to one of his opera premieres. Kosma continued to work for Renoir until the very end, however, composing the music for later works.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: David Zax <Linerep43@aol.com>

Spouse (1)

Lilli Apel (? - 7 August 1969) ( his death)

Trivia (3)

On April 28, 1958, he was one of the seven composers invited to the TV show Trente-Six Chandelles: Les grandes familles de Trente-Six Chandelles : la chanson (1958) hosted by Jean Nohain which was devoted to the successes of the Chanson Française between 1945 and 1955. The composers have played the melody of their favorite song on the piano : Henri Betti for "C'est si Bon" (1947), Louiguy for "La Vie en Rose" (1946), Paul Durand for "Boléro" (1948), Joseph Kosma for "Les Feuilles Mortes" (1946), Louis Ferrari for "Domino" (1949), Paul Misraki for "Tu n'peux pas t'Figurer" (1950) and André Popp for "Les Lavandières du Portugal" (1954).
Kosma composed the music for the first songs that the young singer Juliette Greco performed in 1948 in Paris, before she eventually became a movie performer and went to Hollywood.
While French Cinematheque curator Henri Langlois had shown silent films to his audiences during the first decade of his theatre without musical accompaniment, beginning in 1945 he would present silents with live piano performed by Kosma, whom the film director Jean Renoir introduced him to.

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