Alexandre Desplat

Last updated

Alexandre Desplat
Desplat in 2015
Background information
Birth nameAlexandre Michel Gérard Desplat
Born (1961-08-23) 23 August 1961 (age 60)
Paris, France
Occupation(s)Composer, orchestrator, conductor
Instruments Piano, trumpet, flute

Alexandre Michel Gérard Desplat (French:  [alɛksɑ̃dʁ dɛspla] ; [1] born 23 August 1961) [2] is a French film composer and conductor. He has won many awards, including two Academy Awards, for his musical scores to the films The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Shape of Water , and has received nine additional Academy Award nominations, ten César nominations (winning three), ten BAFTA nominations (winning three), eleven Golden Globe Award nominations (winning two) and ten Grammy nominations (winning two).


Desplat has composed scores for a wide range of films, including low-budget independent productions and large-scale blockbusters, such as The Queen , The Golden Compass , The Curious Case of Benjamin Button , The Twilight Saga: New Moon , Fantastic Mr. Fox , Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 & Part 2 , Little Women , The King's Speech , The Danish Girl , The Imitation Game , Moonrise Kingdom , Argo , Rise of the Guardians , Zero Dark Thirty , The Midnight Sky , Godzilla , Philomena , Unbroken , The Secret Life of Pets and Isle of Dogs .

Early life

Alexandre Desplat was born in Paris. [3] His father, Jacques Desplat, was a Frenchman originally from Sarlat-la-Canéda. [4] His mother, Katie Ladopoulou, is a Greek poet originally from Athens. [5] Desplat's parents had met in the United States while they were both students at the University of California, Berkeley. They married in San Francisco and returned to France, settling in Paris. [3] Alexandre has two older sisters, Marie-Christine (also known as Kiki) and Rosalinda. [4]

Desplat began playing the piano at the age of five. [3] He later picked up the trumpet, before switching to flute at nine. [3] [6] Desplat's musical interests were wide, ranging from French composers as Maurice Ravel and Claude Debussy, to jazz and world music. [7] He developed an early appreciation for film music, courtesy of the movie soundtracks his parents brought back from the United States. He began collecting Bernard Herrmann's Hitchcock soundtracks as a teen and eventually decided to pursue a career as a film composer after hearing John Williams's Star Wars score in 1977. [8] Other early sources of Desplat's inspiration include the music of Maurice Jarre, Nino Rota and Georges Delerue. [7]

Desplat studied at the Conservatoire de Paris under Claude Ballif. During this period, he also took a summer course under Iannis Xenakis. [9] Desplat also studied under Jack Hayes in Los Angeles. [2] After leaving the Conservatoire, the then 20-year-old Desplat joined a theatrical troupe, where he wrote and played music. [3]

When recording the music for his first film, he met violinist Dominique Lemonnier, who became his favorite soloist and artistic director. They later married. [7] [10]

Desplat has worked on many films since the 1980s. His big Hollywood break came in 2003 with the soundtrack for the film Girl with a Pearl Earring, a drama set in 17th-century Delft exploring a fictional muse of Vermeer. [7] [11]


Desplat has composed extensively for French cinema, Hollywood, and incidental music for over 100 films, including Lapse of Memory (1992), Family Express (1992), Regarde Les Hommes Tomber (1994), Les Péchés Mortels (1995), César-nominated Un Héros Très Discret (1996), Une Minute de Silence (1998), Sweet Revenge (1998), Le Château des Singes (1999), Reines d'un Jour (2001), the César-nominated Sur mes lèvres (2002), Rire et Châtiment (2003), Syriana (2005), the César-winner The Beat That My Heart Skipped (2005), The Queen (2006), Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 (2010), The Ghost Writer (2010), Daniel Auteuil's remake of La Fille du Puisatier (2011), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (2011) and The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014).

Desplat has composed individual songs that have been sung in films by such artists as Akhenaton, Kate Beckinsale, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Valérie Lemercier, Miosotis and Catherine Ringer. He has also written music for the theatre, including pieces performed at the Comédie Française. Desplat has conducted performances of his music played by the London Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Munich Symphony Orchestra. Desplat has also given Master Classes at La Sorbonne in Paris and the Royal College of Music in London.

In 2007, he composed the scores for Philip Pullman's Golden Compass ; Zach Helm's directorial debut Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium with American composer Aaron Zigman; and the Ang Lee movie Lust, Caution . Prior to these break-out works, he contributed scores for The Luzhin Defence , Girl with a Pearl Earring , Syriana , Birth , Hostage , Casanova and The Nest.

For The Painted Veil , he won the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score, Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Music, and the 2006 World Soundtrack Award. He won the 2007 BMI Film Music Award, 2007 World Soundtrack Award, 2007 European Film Award, and received his first Academy Award nomination for Best Original Score for The Queen . He also won the Silver Berlin Bear at the Berlin Film Festival for Best Film Music in The Beat that My Heart Skipped . In 2008, Desplat received his second Oscar nomination for David Fincher's Curious Case of Benjamin Button . Desplat received his third Oscar nomination and a BAFTA nomination for Fantastic Mr. Fox in 2010, both of which were won by Michael Giacchino for Up .

Desplat has composed music for Largo Winch , based on the Belgian comic; Afterwards a French-Canadian psychological thriller film directed by Gilles Bourdos in English; Anne Fontaine's Coco avant Chanel, based on the life of designer Coco Chanel; Robert Guédiguian's L'Armée du Crime ; Cheri , reuniting him with director Stephen Frears, whom he collaborated with on The Queen; Un Prophète reuniting with director Jacques Audiard; Julie & Julia [12] directed by Nora Ephron; Fantastic Mr. Fox , directed by Wes Anderson and based on the novel by Roald Dahl; New Moon , directed by Chris Weitz; Roman Polanski's Ghost Writer ; Tamara Drewe ; The Special Relationship ; and The King's Speech which earned Desplat his fourth Oscar nomination. [13]

In early 2011, Desplat began to write the music to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 . He reunited with director David Yates, who offered Desplat the opportunity to score the second part after his work on the Part 1 soundtrack in 2010 "enchanted everyone in the control room". [14] [15] Desplat's soundtrack sequel to the 2008 film Largo Winch was released in 2011 and was well received. Desplat's 2011 projects included The Tree of Life , directed by Terrence Malick (which he actually recorded in early 2010), A Better Life , [16] La Fille du Puisatier , Roman Polanski's Carnage , George Clooney's Ides of March , and the logo for the French film company StudioCanal.

Desplat started 2012 with Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close , the Florent Emilio Siri-directed biopic Cloclo , and DreamWorks Animation's Rise of the Guardians . His other scores of 2013 included Rust and Bone , Zero Dark Thirty , and Argo , the latter of which earned him Oscar, Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations.

In June 2013, Desplat's first Concerto for Flute & Orchestra premiered in France with flautist Jean Ferrandis and the Orchestre National des Pays de la Loire conducted by John Axelrod. His Trois Etudes for piano originally written for pianist Lang Lang had its U.S. premiere in October 2013 played by pianist Gloria Cheng. He received a sixth Oscar nomination for his score to Philomena , which marked his fourth collaboration with director Stephen Frears.

On 23 June 2014, it was announced that Desplat would head the jury at the 71st Venice International Film Festival. [17] He wrote five major scores during 2014, with The Grand Budapest Hotel winning him his first Academy Award. [18] His score for The Imitation Game was also nominated, and his win therefore marked the first time a composer had won against another of their own scores since John Williams won for Star Wars (beating Close Encounters of the Third Kind ) in 1978, and only the seventh time overall (Alfred Newman, Bernard Herrmann, Max Steiner, Miklos Rozsa and Johnny Green are the only other composers to achieve this).

On 16 March 2015, It was announced that Desplat would be composing the first anthology film of the new Disney Star Wars films, called Rogue One . [19] In September 2016, he stepped down due to reshoots of the film, and was then replaced by Michael Giacchino. [20]

In 2018, he won his second Academy Award for The Shape of Water and premiered a new work for solo flute played by Emmanuel Pahud.



1998 La Femme du cosmonaute Jacques Monnet
Sweet Revenge Malcolm Mowbray
2000 The Luzhin Defence Marleen Gorris
2001 A Hell of a Day Marion Vernoux
2003 Girl with a Pearl Earring Peter Webber
2004 Birth Jonathan Glazer
2005 The Upside of Anger Mike Binder
Hostage Florent Emilio Siri
Casanova Lasse Hallström
Syriana Stephen Gaghan
2006 The Alibi Matt Checkowski
Kurt Mattila
Firewall Richard Loncraine
The Queen Stephen Frears Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Score
The Painted Veil John Curran
2007 Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium Zach Helm with Aaron Zigman
The Golden Compass Chris Weitz
2008 Afterwards Gilles Bourdos
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button David Fincher Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Score
2009 Julie & Julia Nora Ephron
Chéri Stephen Frears
Fantastic Mr. Fox Wes Anderson Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Score
The Twilight Saga: New Moon [21] Chris Weitz
2010 The Ghost Writer Roman Polanski
The Special Relationship Richard Loncraine
Tamara Drewe Stephen Frears
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 David Yates
The King's Speech Tom Hooper Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Score
2011 The Tree of Life Terrence Malick
A Better Life Chris Weitz
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 David Yates
The Ides of March George Clooney
Carnage Roman Polanski
My Week with Marilyn Simon Curtis "Marilyn's Theme"
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close Stephen Daldry
2012 Moonrise Kingdom Wes Anderson
A Therapy Roman PolanskiShort
Argo Ben Affleck Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Score
Rise of the Guardians Peter Ramsey
Zero Dark Thirty Kathryn Bigelow
2013 Zulu Jérôme Salle
Venus in Fur Roman Polanski
Philomena Stephen FrearsNominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Score
2014 The Monuments Men George Clooney
The Grand Budapest Hotel Wes AndersonWon the Academy Award for Best Original Score
Godzilla [22] Gareth Edwards
The Imitation Game [23] Morten Tyldum Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Score
Unbroken Angelina Jolie
2015 Tale of Tales Matteo Garrone
Every Thing Will Be Fine Wim Wenders
The Danish Girl Tom Hooper
Suffragette Sarah Gavron
2016 Alone in Berlin Vincent Pérez
Florence Foster Jenkins Stephen Frears
Marseille TV series
The Secret Life of Pets [24] Chris Renaud
The Light Between Oceans Derek Cianfrance
American Pastoral Ewan McGregor
2017 Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Luc Besson
Trollhunters TV series; "Hero Theme", "Dark Theme" with Tim Davies
The Shape of Water Guillermo del Toro Won the Academy Award for Best Original Score
Suburbicon George Clooney
2018 Isle of Dogs Wes AndersonNominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Score
Operation Finale Chris Weitz
The Sisters Brothers Jacques Audiard
Kursk Thomas Vinterberg
2019 The Secret Life of Pets 2 [25] Chris Renaud
Little Women Greta Gerwig Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Score
2020 The Midnight Sky [26] George Clooney
2021 The French Dispatch Wes Anderson
2022 Pinocchio [27] Guillermo del Toro Score and songs
TBA She Came to Me [28] Rebecca Miller

Other languages


Desplat has received many awards and nominations for his work including two Academy Awards, three BAFTA Awards and two Golden Globe Awards.


Related Research Articles

John Williams American composer, conductor, and musician

John Towner Williams is an American composer, conductor, pianist and trombonist. In a career that has spanned nearly seven decades, he has composed some of the most popular, recognizable, and critically acclaimed film scores in cinematic history. Williams has won 25 Grammy Awards, seven British Academy Film Awards, five Academy Awards, and four Golden Globe Awards. With 52 Academy Award nominations, he is the second most-nominated individual, after Walt Disney. His compositions are considered the epitome of film music. In 2005, the American Film Institute selected Williams's score to 1977's Star Wars as the greatest film score of all time. The Library of Congress also entered the Star Wars soundtrack into the National Recording Registry for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

Howard Shore Canadian film score composer (born 1946)

Howard Leslie Shore is a Canadian composer and conductor noted for his film scores. He has composed the scores for over 80 films, most notably the scores for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film trilogies. He won three Academy Awards for his work on The Lord of the Rings, with one being for the song "Into the West", an award he shared with Eurythmics lead vocalist Annie Lennox and writer/producer Fran Walsh, who wrote the lyrics. He is also a consistent collaborator with director David Cronenberg, having scored all but one of his films since 1979.

Michael Giacchino American composer of music for films, television and video games

Michael Giacchino is an American musician and composer of music for films, television and video games. He has received many awards, including an Oscar, an Emmy, and three Grammys.

Bruno Coulais French composer

Bruno Coulais is a French composer, most widely known for his music on film soundtracks.

Nicholas Hooper is a British film and television composer & guitarist. He has scored the award-winning BBC productions Land of the Tiger and Andes to Amazon, as well as the TV movies The Girl in the Café and My Family and Other Animals among others. Hooper won a BAFTA Award and an Ivor Novello Award for Original Score in 2004 for The Young Visiters and a BAFTA for Best Original Television Music in 2007 for Prime Suspect: The Final Act.

The World Soundtrack Awards, launched in 2001 by the Film Fest Gent, is aimed at organizing and overseeing the educational, cultural and professional aspects of the art of film music, including the preservation of the history of the soundtrack and its worldwide promotion. The event takes place yearly in Ghent, Belgium with the ceremony usually at the Capitole Concert Hall. Usually, the Brussels Philharmonic conducted by Dirk Brossé performs the awarded music at the ceremony.

<i>Harry Potter</i> (film series) Fantasy film series adaptation of the Harry Potter novels

Harry Potter is a film series based on the eponymous novels by J. K. Rowling. The series is distributed by Warner Bros. and consists of eight fantasy films, beginning with Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (2001) and culminating with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (2011). A spin-off prequel series that will consist of five films started with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016), marking the beginning of the Wizarding World shared media franchise.

<i>Girl with a Pearl Earring</i> (soundtrack) 2004 soundtrack album by Alexandre Desplat

Girl with a Pearl Earring: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is the soundtrack album to the 2003 film Girl with a Pearl Earring starring Scarlett Johansson, Colin Firth, Tom Wilkinson, Cillian Murphy and Judy Parfitt. It was composed by French film composer Alexandre Desplat.

Alex Heffes is a British film composer. His film scores include those for the BAFTA-winning Touching the Void, and Oscar-winning movies One Day in September, The Last King of Scotland, and Inside Job. Heffes was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score for his work on Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.

The World Soundtrack Award for Soundtrack Composer of the Year is one of the three main prizes given by the World Soundtrack Academy to honour the best movie soundtracks and the people who work on them.

<i>Coco Before Chanel</i> 2009 film by Anne Fontaine

Coco Before Chanel is a 2009 biographical drama film directed and co-written by Anne Fontaine. The film stars Audrey Tautou and details the early life of French fashion designer Coco Chanel.

<i>Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1</i> (soundtrack) 2010 film score by Alexandre Desplat

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows − Part 1 is a motion picture soundtrack to the 2010 film of the same name, written and conducted by the French film composer Alexandre Desplat. The soundtrack was nominated for the 2010 IFMCA Award for Best Original Score for a Fantasy Film and the 2010 Satellite Award for Best Original Score.

Lorne Balfe Scottish composer

Lorne Balfe is a Scottish composer and producer of film, television, and video game scores. A veteran of Hans Zimmer's Remote Control Productions, Balfe is known for his composing music for big-budget films like 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi,Terminator Genisys, Mission: Impossible – Fallout, and the DreamWorks animated films Home and Penguins of Madagascar, as well as the video games Assassin's Creed: Revelations, Assassin's Creed III, Crysis 2, Skylanders and the Call of Duty franchise. He has also scored the television series The Bible, Marcella, The Crown, and Genius, the latter for which he was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music.

International Film Music Critics Association Professional association

The International Film Music Critics Association (IFMCA) is a professional association for online, print and radio journalists who specialize in writing about original film and television music.

<i>Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2</i> (soundtrack) 2011 film score by Alexandre Desplat

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 is a motion picture soundtrack to the 2011 film of the same name written and conducted by the French film composer Alexandre Desplat. The soundtrack was nominated for a Grammy Award, Satellite Award, Houston Film Critics Society Award, Denver Film Critics Society Award, and an IFMCA Award for Best Original Score for a Fantasy Film. The soundtrack won the San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Score.

Raphaël Gesqua French composer, arranger and sound designer

Raphaël Gesqua is a French composer, arranger and sound designer.

Selma Mutal is a Franco-Dutch film score composer. She is known for her collaborations with filmmakers Claudia Llosa, Javier Fuentes-León, and Tod Lending. Mutal has also scored films directed by Fabien Gorgeart, Piotr Dumala, Pola Rapaport, and Víctor García León, work for TV, and a Chanel campaign, among other things.

<i>The Grand Budapest Hotel</i> (soundtrack) 2014 soundtrack album by Alexandre Desplat

The Grand Budapest Hotel: Original Soundtrack is the accompanying soundtrack album for the identically named 2014 comedy-drama film, released on March 4, 2014 through ABKCO Records. Alexandre Desplat composed the soundtrack in his third collaboration with Wes Anderson. It is a Russian folk-influenced piece encompassing symphonic compositions and ambient drones, and features contributions from professional orchestras such as the Osipov State Russian Folk Orchestra and a 50-man orchestra of French and Russian balalaika players. His work on the soundtrack won Mr. Desplat an Oscar for Best Original Score at the 87th Academy Awards.

Ashley Irwin is an Australian born composer, conductor, orchestrator, arranger and music producer. Irwin has composed, conducted, arranged, and orchestrated music for numerous movie soundtracks. He has collaborated with Clint Eastwood, Bill Conti, and has scored for silent films including Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog. He has an Emmy award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Music Direction, and two Emmy nominations.


  1. "Artists & ARTURIA #41 Alexandre Desplat using MatrixBrute on the Valerian Soundtrack". Arturia. 26 July 2017. Retrieved 13 January 2020.
  2. 1 2 "Alexandre Desplat". Turner Classic Movies . Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Burlingame, Jon (7 January 2007). "Thinking in Colors and Textures, Then Writing in Music". The New York Times . Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  4. 1 2 "Jacques DESPLAT : Décès (06 janvier 2011)". Sud Ouest (in French). 6 January 2011. Retrieved 31 December 2020.
  5. Delmotte, Natacha (2 April 2015). "Katie Ladopoulou-Desplat, mère comblée". La Nouvelle République du Centre-Ouest . Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  6. Buckley, Cara (12 February 2015). "Composer Knows His Competition Quite Well: Himself". The New York Times . Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  7. 1 2 3 4 "Biography". Retrieved 28 January 2014.
  8. Romano, Andrew (11 February 2014). "Meet Alexandre Desplat, Hollywood's Master Composer". The Daily Beast . Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  9. Tsioulcas, Anastasia (18 July 2011). "Alexandre Desplat: Creating Color For Harry Potter". WBUR-FM . Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  10. Burlingame, Jon (5 November 2014). "Billion Dollar Composer: Alexandre Desplat Has Ears of World's Top Auteurs". Variety. Retrieved 26 May 2016.
  11. "How Alexandre Desplat creates a film score in three weeks – BBC News". BBC News. 10 December 2014. Retrieved 26 May 2016.
  12. "Scoring for the screen: Composers and film directors work in harmony | Film Journal International". Archived from the original on 9 June 2016. Retrieved 26 May 2016.
  13. "Interview with Alexandre Desplat :: Film Music Magazine". Retrieved 26 May 2016.
  14. Herrera, Monica; Lipshutz, Jason; Mapes, Jillian (25 January 2011). "Reznor, Rahman, Zimmer & More React to Their Oscar Nominations". Billboard . Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  15. [ dead link ]
  16. Dargis, Manohla (23 June 2011). "'A Better Life,' Directed by Chris Weitz – Review". The New York Times . ISSN   0362-4331 . Retrieved 26 May 2016.
  17. "Venice Names Alexandre Desplat To Head Fest Competition Jury". 23 June 2014. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
  18. "Oscar Nominations 2021: The Complete List | 93rd Academy Awards". Archived from the original on 13 January 2016. Retrieved 2015-04-04.
  19. McGillan, Graeme (16 March 2015). "Alexandre Desplate Says He'll Be Working on 'Star Wars' Stand-alone Movie". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 16 March 2015.
  20. Kit, Borys (15 September 2016). "'Star Wars: Rogue One' Replaces Its Composter (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 15 September 2016.
  21. Dargis, Manohla (19 November 2009). "For Kristen Stewart, Abstinence Makes the Heart ... You Know". The New York Times . ISSN   0362-4331 . Retrieved 26 May 2016.
  22. "Godzilla". Retrieved 15 May 2014.
  23. "Alexandre Desplat Takes Over Scoring Duties on 'The Imitation Game'". Film Music Reporter.
  24. "Alexandre Desplat to Score 'The Secret Life of Pets'". Film Music Reporter. 3 December 2015. Retrieved 3 December 2015.
  25. "Alexandre Desplat to Return for 'The Secret Life of Pets 2'". Film Music Reporter. 15 August 2018.
  26. "Alexandre Desplat Scoring George Clooney's 'The Midnight Sky'". Film Music Reporter. 26 May 2020.
  27. "Alexandre Desplat to Reteam with Guillermo del Toro on Netflix Animated Movie 'Pinocchio'". Film Music Reporter. 8 January 2020.
  28. Ramachandran, Naman (8 June 2021). "Anne Hathaway, Tahar Rahim, Marisa Tomei Lead Cast of Rebecca Miller's 'She Came To Me,' Protagonist Launches Sales at Cannes". Variety . Retrieved 25 June 2021.
  29. Décret du 14 novembre 2016 portant promotion et nomination
  30. Arrêté du 10 février 2016 portant nomination et promotion dans l'ordre des Arts et des Lettres
  31. Décret du 13 juillet 2011 portant promotion et nomination