The French-Lebanese composer Gabriel Yared, winner of a César for “The Lover”, an Oscar and a Golden Globe for “The English Patient”, made his debut in film music thanks to an unusual meeting with Jean-Luc Godard.
Born in Beirut in 1949, Gabriel Yared came to France in the 1970s to study at the Normal School of Music in Paris. He went to work in Brazil for a year and a half before returning to the City of Light. There he met many stars and personalities, in particular Françoise Hardy and Jacques Dutronc. The latter put him in contact with director Jean-Luc Godard, for whom he composed the music for “Sauve qui peut (la vie)” in 1980. It was the beginning of a prolific career.
>> To see, Gabriel Yared and the Orchester philharmonique de Radio France play the music of the film “L’amant” by Jean-Jacques Annaud:
“I’m sorry, but I don’t know him”
“I didn’t know who Jean-Luc Godard was at the time,” recalls Gabriel Yared, interviewed by RTS when he came to the Rencontres du 7e Art de Lausanne in March 2022. The fact that he needed to learn music. devouring scores and writing down what interested me. We meet in a Saint-Cloud bistro with his producer, Marin Karmitz.
The director then briefly describes his film to him, without footage, before asking him to orchestrate eight bars of Ponchielli’s “La Gioconda.” The young Gabriel Yared refuses: orchestration is not his thing and he wants to compose. As he gets up from the table, the producer catches up with him and says “But you’re crazy, it’s Jean-Luc Godard!” “I told him ‘sorry, but I don’t know him,'” continues Gabriel Yared. Later, many people in the business told me that he was not smart, but he was actually very sincere. I think Godard caught him, because then he called me back and I was able to compose. He then wrote and recorded all the music without having seen any footage from the film.
>> Also to listen, interview with Gabriel Yared at l’Echo des Pavanes:
Music before images
It is thanks to this encounter that Gabriel Yared develops his original way of working. He composes inspired by history, not images. “It is the key to my work, sometimes accompanied by the incomprehension of the directors, sometimes completely in tune with them, such as Jean-Jacques Beinex, Jean-Jacques Annaud and Anthony Minghella”. Collaborations that put the director back in the spotlight in the 1990s: “The Lover” by Jean-Jacques Annaud received the César for best film music in 1993, and “The English Patient” by Anthony Minghella, the Oscar for best original dramatic work. sheet music and a Golden Globe in 1997.
What is in the mist speaks to me more than what is in the photo. I need to look for all the solutions and make mistakes.
“A director takes a long time to prepare his film, from writing the script to financing, through casting and shooting… it takes two or three years. And we songwriters cynically arrived two months before the mix. We look at the pictures, and that’s it. Personally, I didn’t want to enter that industrialization of writing. I discovered that Fellini and his composer Nino Rota or Sergio Leone and Ennio Morricone worked on composing the music at the same time, even before the images of their films. .”
After reading the script, Gabriel Yared talks to the director and asks him: ‘What are you waiting for?’ “I share with them, I let them listen to my music during editing, so they can try it out. It is a collaboration that takes time.”
Interview with Pierre Philippe Cadert
Web adaptation: Myriam Semaani