Music Break: Seven Favorite Themes By Alexandre Desplat

For some reason, I had just become familiar with Alexandre Desplat‘s work fairly recently. I think it was his score for The Queen (2006) that garnered my attention, and since then I’ve been a big fan. On my Five for the Fifth post I talked about Hans Zimmer’s concert, now I’d definitely go to Mr. Desplat’s concert if he had one!


Per his official site:

52-year-old Alexandre Michel Gérard Desplat was raised in a musical and cultural mix with a Greek mother and French father who studied and were married in California, he grew up listening to the French symphonists Ravel and Debussy and to jazz. He enriched his classical musical education by studying Brazilian and African music, which later lead him to record with Carlinhos Brown and Ray Lema.

An avid fan of cinema, he expressed his desire to compose for the Big Screen early on. During the recording of his first film, he met Dominique Lemonnier violinist who became his favorite soloist, artistic director and wife. She founded the Traffic Quintet for which he wrote original music and transcribed soundtracks.

In 2003 he burst onto the Hollywood scene with his evocative score to Girl With a Pearl Earring (starring Scarlett Johansson and Colin Firth), which earned him nominations at the Golden Globes, BAFTAs and European Film Awards.

Those who watch a lot of French films might recognize him as he’s composed a lot of work for French cinema. Since I listen to a lot of classical music, I definitely LOVE Desplat’s style. A lot of his scores have such an emotional experience that can take you to another place. Some music can pierce your soul and I feel that Desplat’s music has that quality, especially his work for Tree of Life and Philomena. It’s melancholic and reflective, but he can also be playful and even whimsical, i.e. The Grand Budapest Hotel.

It’s only been a little over a decade that he made his Hollywood big break, but he’s been amazingly-prolific since. If you look at his IMDb resume, he’d often work on half a dozen scores a year! In 2013 alone, he worked on no less than six films, yet somehow he churn out great work virtually every time. Just in the past decade alone, he’s got 48 wins and 90 nominations (including Oscar, Golden Globes, BAFTA and Grammy) This man is a machine!

So for today’s music break, I want to highlight just a sampling of his stellar work:

So what do you think of Alexandre Desplat’s works? Which one(s) are YOUR faves?

36 thoughts on “Music Break: Seven Favorite Themes By Alexandre Desplat

    1. Hmmm, I haven’t seen that one yet but I’m gonna check the score on youtube now. I tell you Deplat’s got SOOOO many great works that everyone’s favorites are bound to be quite different.

    1. You said it best Keith, he does have the ability to suit his score to the tone and emotional tone of the film. That alone is quite a feat, but his music is so pleasing to the ear.

  1. Ooh, I love his work! Based on “The Mission,” I thought he’d win the Oscar for Argo. It’s probably my favorite piece he’s done. I also love his work on the Harry Potter films, Tamara Drewe, The Beat That My Heart Skipped, The Ghost Writer, Birth, and The Ides of March, among many others.

    1. I almost put down his work in HP here, I probably should’ve just made this a top 10. Oh right he did The Ghost Writer too, I remember liking that one.

  2. Right now, one of my favorite composers as I love his work with Wes Anderson as I think he adds a much broader scale with the music to his films as another score of his that I love is Girl with a Pearl Earring as it added a lot of elegance to the film.

    1. I love that too, I saw that film on a plane so the sound quality isn’t that great, so listening to it again here I fell in love w/ it all over again.

            1. Yeah I was too! I thought initially it was a comedy, and there are some funny moments but Coogan’s role is actually pretty serious. It’s a heartbreaking film tho, man I cried a lot watching that one.

  3. Ted S.

    I haven’t seen many of the films he composed but I did enjoy his work on the last two Harry Potters films and Tree of Life. I was not a fan of his work on the new Godzilla though, it wasn’t bad but nothing special.

    1. Hi Ted! Yeah I wasn’t crazy about Godzilla’s score, that’s why it’s not on here, but the work he did for HP and Tree of Life are astounding!

  4. Desplat is easily one of the best working today! I’m pulling for him to win an Oscar this year. He deserves it. His play with music, and the way he works with the piano in particular, is just sublime.

  5. Great spotlight! His work is so varied; and you know his piano work and distinctive style the second you hear it. I would say my favorite soundtrack of his is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 and Part 2. I could really say both soundtracks are my favorites, but if I have to pick I love “Obliviate” and its smooth transition into “Snape to Malfoy Manor”. It’s haunting and so sets the tone of the golden trio embarking on the horcrcux hunt.

    1. I remember really loving the HP soundtrack, now I wish I had included ’em here. I think the Deathly Hallows’ music is even more heart-wrenching which goes w/ the plot that the stakes become higher for Harry & co.

  6. Oh he is such a wonderful composer, his music is like something destined for a fairy tale! I love Courtyard Apocalypse from last Harry Potter movie the most out of his tracks.

    1. You’re right about the fairy tale quality of his work. It almost sounds ethereal and otherworldly, no wonder he’s perfect for Harry Potter and Tree of Life.

    1. Hey thanks Adam! Glad I introduced him to you then, well sort of, surely you’ve heard of his work before. He is definitely underrated, but hopefully not for long.

  7. Hi Ruth, always love it when you talk about scores. It’s what makes a film jump from good to great. So glad you spent time with a tribute to him! I learned a lot. 🙂
    I’m going with ‘The Kings Speech’. The music stirred the emotions where the characters could not convey in their dialogue. I loved the film. 🙂

    1. Hi Cindy, welcome back! Soundtrack is one of my all time favorite music genre and yes I do think music adds so much to a film. Like you said… “music stirred the emotions where the characters could not convey in their dialogue” Can’t say it better myself, that’s why composers like Mr Desplat are unsung heroes in cinema!

  8. Love Alexandre Desplat, he’s one of my favourite movie score composers! The Grand Budapest Hotel soundtrack has been on repeat in our house for months. It makes everyday tasks like washing up and cleaning the windows a lot more interesting if you imagine you’re in a Wes Anderson movie! Also like his work on Harry Potter too.

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