Music from Henri Verneuil’s films in symphonic version at the Opéra de Marseille

The conductor and composer Jean-Claude Petit collaborated twice with Henri Verneuil, signing the music for mayrig in 1991, and 588 Paradise Street in 1992, the director’s last two films, evoking the story of his family who arrived in Marseilles in 1924, after having fled Armenia to escape the genocide. In 2020, on the occasion of the centenary of the birth of Henri Verneuil, the Armenian Embassy in France wishes to pay tribute to him and contacts the son of the director, who immediately thinks of Jean-Claude Petit. The idea, to set up a concert with a philharmonic orchestra featuring music from some of his most famous films.

France 3 Provence-Alpes: L. Bourgoin-Gardner / X. Schuffenecker

Jarre, Morricone, Magnin…

I’m the only one of its composers still alive in the end, who was able to pick up all that by ear, because the scores don’t exist, mind you, they’re lost or with publishers who don’t want to know anything. So, as I had time with the Covid, I picked up everything by ear and reconstituted for a symphony orchestra“, says Jean-Claude Petit, to whom we owe, among other things, the soundtracks of John of Florette and Manon of the sources by Claude Berry, Cyrano de Bergerac and The Hussar on the roof by Jean-Paul Rappeneau, Beaumarchais, the insolent by Edouard Molinaro. In all, more than fifty film scores to his credit.

For his part, if Henri Verneuil turned the biggest names in French cinema – Fernandel, Gabin, Delon or even Belmondo -, he also called on the greatest composers of the time. Jean-Claude Petit has highlighted six of them in this score: Maurice Jarre for Weekend in Zuydcoote (1964), Joseph Kosma for unimportant people (1956), Georges Delerue for Morfalous (1984), Ennio Morricone for The Sicilian Clan (1969), The Battle of San Sebastian (1969) and The Break (1971), Paul Durand for The Cow and the Prisoner (1959) and Michel Magne for A monkey in winter. And of course he also took his two compositions for mayrig and 588 Paradise Street.

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