Joseph Kosma (1905 - 1969)

Joseph Kosma became primarily known as a film composer although he was educated in Hungary at the Budapest Conservatory. His scholarship to the Berlin Opera introduced him to Bertolt Brecht. He joined Brecht’s touring company in 1929 where he met Kurt Weill and Hanns Eisler whose influence on his work was apparent in the film scores he would later write. In 1933 he moved to Paris to work with director Jean Renoir. Their first collaboration was 1936’s Le Crime de Monsieur Lange, and in 1937 they produced La Grande Illusion, considered one of the top films of all times.

When Kosma scored the 1945 Marcel Carn classic Les Enfants du Paradis, he met the film’s screenwriter, Jacques Prevert. During their partnership they produced the ballet Rendezvous and several songs, including a Prevert poem set to music, “Les Feuilles Mortes,” which would become “Autumn Leaves” in English. Kosma returned to his classical roots, composing several operettas during the ‘60s.

-- Sandra Burlingame

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