Alexandre Desplat

Alexandre Desplat

Alexandre Desplat
Background information
Birth name Alexandre Michel Gérard Desplat
Born (1961-08-23) 23 August 1961
Paris, France
Occupation(s) Composer, Orchestrator, Conductor

Alexandre Michel Gérard Desplat (French: [a.lɛk.sɑ̃dʁ dɛs.pla]; born 23 August 1961) is a French film composer. He has won one Academy Award for his soundtrack to the film The Grand Budapest Hotel, and received seven additional Academy Award nominations, 8 César nominations (winning three), seven BAFTA nominations (winning two), seven Golden Globe Award nominations (winning one), and six Grammy nominations (winning two).

Desplat has worked on a variety of Hollywood films, including independent and commercial successes like 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 and Part 2, The King's Speech, Moonrise Kingdom, Argo, Rise of the Guardians, Zero Dark Thirty, Godzilla, The Imitation Game, and Unbroken.

Early life

Desplat was born in Paris, to a French father and a Greek mother who met at the University of California, Berkeley.[1] After their marriage, they moved back to France, where Alexandre was born. Alexandre is the younger brother of Marie-Christine, also known as Kiki, who is leading jazz band "Certains l'Aiment Chaud",[2] and of Rosalinda Desplat.

At the age of five, he began playing piano.[3] He also became proficient on trumpet and flute. He studied with Claude Ballif, Iannis Xenakis in France and Jack Hayes in the U.S. Desplat swiftly became skilled, both as a performer and a composer.

Desplat's musical interests were wide, listening to a mix of the French symphonists like Ravel and Debussy, jazz and even more exotic world music. He was also influenced by South American and African artists, among whom were Carlinhos Brown and Ray Lema.[4]

Being a big fan of films, Desplat set his sights on becoming a film composer from an early age and took actions to make this dream a reality as soon as he started thinking of building a career. He worked on his first film Le souffleur in 1986.[5]

When recording the music for his first film, he met violinist Dominique Lemonnier who became his favorite soloist, artistic director and wife.[4][6]

Desplat worked on many films throughout his career since the 1980s, and his big Hollywood break came in 2003 with the soundtrack for the film Girl with a Pearl Earring.[4][7]


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, The Nest and The Painted Veil, for which 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 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[8] 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.[9]

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".[10][11] 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,[12] La Fille du Puisatier, Roman Polanski's Carnage, and George Clooney's Ides of March.

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.[13] He wrote five major scores during 2014, with The Grand Budapest Hotel winning him his first Academy Award.[14] 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).


Academy Awards

Year Nominee/work Award Result
2007 The Queen Best Original Score Nominated
2009 The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Nominated
2010 Fantastic Mr. Fox Nominated
2011 The King's Speech Nominated
2013 Argo Nominated
2014 Philomena Nominated
2015 The Grand Budapest Hotel Won
The Imitation Game Nominated

Golden Globe Awards

Year Nominee/work Award Result
2004 Girl with a Pearl Earring Best Original Score Nominated
2006 Syriana Nominated
2007 The Painted Veil Won
2009 The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Nominated
2011 The King's Speech Nominated
2013 Argo Nominated
2015 The Imitation Game Nominated
2016 The Danish Girl Nominated

British Academy Film Awards

Year Nominee/work Award Result
2003 Girl with a Pearl Earring Best Music Nominated
2006 The Queen Nominated
2009 The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Nominated
2010 Fantastic Mr. Fox Nominated
2011 The King's Speech Won
2013 Argo Nominated
2015 The Grand Budapest Hotel Won

Grammy Awards

Year Nominee/work Award Result
2009 The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media Nominated
2011 The King's Speech Won
2012 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 Nominated
2013 Argo Nominated
Zero Dark Thirty Nominated
2014 The Grand Budapest Hotel Won

César Awards

Year Nominee/work Award Result
1997 Un Héros Très Discret Best Music Written for a Film Nominated
2002 Sur mes lèvres Nominated
2006 The Beat That My Heart Skipped Won
2008 L'ennemi intime Nominated
2010 A Prophet Nominated
2011 The Ghost Writer Won
2013 Rust and Bone Won
2014 Venus in Fur Nominated

Satellite Awards

Year Nominee/work Award Result
2010 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 Best Score Nominated
2011 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 Nominated
2012 Argo Won
2013 Philomena Nominated
2014 The Imitation Game Nominated
2015 The Danish Girl Nominated




Filmography (English language)

Year Film
1998 Sweet Revenge
2000 The Luzhin Defence
2003 Girl with a Pearl Earring
2004 Birth
2005 The Upside of Anger
2006 The Alibi
The Queen
The Painted Veil
2007 Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium
The Golden Compass
2008 Afterwards
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
2009 Julie & Julia
Fantastic Mr. Fox
The Twilight Saga: New Moon[16]
2010 The Ghost Writer
The Special Relationship
Tamara Drewe
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1
The King's Speech
2011 The Tree of Life
A Better Life
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2
The Ides of March
My Week with Marilyn - (Marilyn's Theme)
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
2012 Moonrise Kingdom
A Therapy (short)
Rust and Bone
Rise of the Guardians
Zero Dark Thirty
2013 Zulu
Venus in Fur
2014 The Monuments Men
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game[18]
2015 Tale of Tales
Every Thing Will Be Fine
The Danish Girl
2016 Alone in Berlin
Florence Foster Jenkins
Marseille (TV series)
The Secret Life of Pets[19]
The Light Between Oceans
American Pastoral
2017 Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Filmography (other languages)


  1. Burlingame, Jon (7 January 2007). "Thinking in Colors and Textures, Then Writing in Music". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  2. "Certains l'aiment chaud Web site". Retrieved 15 June 2015.
  3. Hischak, Thomas S. (2015-04-16). The Encyclopedia of Film Composers (in Arabic). Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 9781442245501.
  4. 1 2 3 "Biography". Retrieved 28 January 2014.
  5. "Biography & Filmography". Retrieved 28 January 2014.
  6. Burlingame, Jon (2014-11-05). "Billion Dollar Composer: Alexandre Desplat Has Ears of World's Top Auteurs". Variety. Retrieved 2016-05-26.
  7. "How Alexandre Desplat creates a film score in three weeks - BBC News". BBC News. Retrieved 2016-05-26.
  8. "Scoring for the screen: Composers and film directors work in harmony | Film Journal International". Retrieved 2016-05-26.
  9. "Interview with Alexandre Desplat :: Film Music Magazine". Retrieved 2016-05-26.
  10. Herrera, Monica; Lipshutz, Jason; Mapes, Jillian (25 January 2011). "Reznor, Rahman, Zimmer & More React to Their Oscar Nominations". Billboard. Retrieved 31 August 2011.
  11. Dargis, Manohla (2011-06-23). "'A Better Life,' Directed by Chris Weitz - Review". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-05-26.
  12. "Venice Names Alexandre Desplat To Head Fest Competition Jury". 23 June 2014. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
  15. Dargis, Manohla (2009-11-19). "For Kristen Stewart, Abstinence Makes the Heart ... You Know". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-05-26.
  16. "Godzilla". Legendary. Retrieved 2014-05-15.
  18. "Alexandre Desplat to Score 'The Secret Life of Pets'". December 3, 2015. Retrieved December 3, 2015.

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