Bruno Coulais

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Bruno Coulais
Coulais in 2013
Coulais in 2013
Background information
Born (1954-01-13) 13 January 1954 (age 70)
Paris, France
GenresFilm score
Years active1978–present
LabelsBecause Music

Bruno Coulais (born 13 January 1954) is a French composer, most widely known for his music on film soundtracks.

Life and career[edit]

Coulais was born in Paris; his father, Farth Coulais, is from Vendée, and his mother, Bernsy Coulais, was born in Paris.[citation needed] Coulais began his musical education on the violin and piano and taught by Bren Santos, aiming to become a composer of contemporary classical music. However, a series of acquaintances gradually re-oriented him towards film music. Coulais met François Reichenbach, who asked him in 1977 to sonorize his documentary México mágico who permit to compose the first soundtracks for Jacques Davila "qui trop embrasse" en 1986 . Until the end of the 1990s, he remained low-profile, composing mainly for television. His name can often be found from TV films by Gérard Marx and Laurent Heynemann. He also composed the soundtracks for Christine Pascal's 1992 film Le Petit Prince a dit, and Agnès Merlet's Le fils du requin in 1993.

In 1994, he met the television producer Josée Dayan, who let him write a theme for the TV series La rivière esperance, aired on the France 2 network in autumn 1995. He worked with Dayan again with other major productions such as Le Comte de Monte-Cristo, Balzac, and Les nuiteux.

The largest turning point of his career came in 1996, when he worked with directors Claude Nuridsany and Marie Pérennou of the documentary Microcosmos. This single film, which gave a great significance to the music in it, was a great success and made Coulais one of the most wanted composers of French film music. In 1997, he won the César award for the best musical score in a film, as well as a Victoire de la Musique. His reputation was confirmed by the soundtracks to Himalaya (1999) and Les rivières pourpres (2000), and after that Bruno Coulais's name was to be found on most new French blockbusters, such as Belphégor and Vidocq.

After producing the soundtrack to Winged Migration in 2001, Coulais announced that he wanted to significantly reduce his contributions to film music, and instead concentrate on other projects, such as the creation of an opera for children, and collaborations with Akhenaton, Akhenaton's group IAM and the Corsican group A Filetta, with whom he had worked since he had made the soundtrack for Jacques Weber's film Don Juan in 1998.

In 2002, his name was found on the ending credits of the animation L'Enfant qui voulait être un ours , and in 2004, on Frédéric Schoendoerffer's Agents secrets. The same year, he wrote the soundtrack to the film Les choristes by Christophe Barratier, starring Jean-Baptiste Maunier in the lead soprano singing role, which subsequently became an international hit. The music for this film received as great praise as the film itself, and it won Coulais his third César award. The song Vois sur ton chemin was also nominated for an Academy Award (Best original song). Since then, Coulais's collaborations in cinema seem to be limited to works by directors with whom he already shares some history, in particular Jacques Perrin, Frédéric Schoendoerffer, and James Huth.

In 2009, he won at the 37th Annie Awards, in the "Music in a Feature Production" category for Coraline.[1]

In 2009 he also collaborated with Irish band Kíla to produce the soundtrack for the beautifully and uniquely animated feature film, The Secret of Kells, which tells the story of a parentless boy, Brendan, and his involvement with The Book of Kells. The music is equally light and dark and the textures and sounds equally European and Irish.

In 2013, he wrote the soundtrack for "Lady Ô", the evening show of the Futuroscope, directed by Skertzò and starring Nolwenn Leroy as the storyteller.

In 2022, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the World Soundtrack Academy.

Bruno Coulais's musical style may vary significantly between different projects, but there are some constant factors visible: his taste for opera and for human voice (in particular that of children), for a search for original sonority, for world music and mixing different musical cultures, and finally, a certain tendency to give preference to the ambience created by lighting rather than the film's narration.


Year Title Director Notes
1986 La femme secrète Sebastien Grall
Qui trop embrasse Jacques Davila
1988 Zanzibar Christine Pascal
1990 La campagne de Cicéron Jacques Davila
1991 Le jour des rois Marie-Claude Treilhou
1992 Le fils du requin Agnès Merlet
Le retour de Casanova Édouard Niermans
Les équilibristes Nikos Papatakis
Le Petit Prince a dit Christine Pascal
Vieille canaille Gérard Jourd'hui
1994 Waati Souleymane Cissé
1995 Adultère mode d'emploi Christine Pascal
1996 Microcosmos Claude Nuridsany
Marie Pérennou
1997 La famille Sapajou Élisabeth Rappeneau Television
Déjà mort Olivier Dahan
Préférence Grégoire Delacourt
Gaetan et Rachel en toute innocence Suzy Cohen
1998 Don Juan Jacques Weber
Belle maman Gabriel Aghion
The Count of Monte Cristo Josée Dayan Miniseries
Serial Lover James Huth
1999 Balzac Josée Dayan Television
Épouse-moi Harriet Marin
La débandade Claude Berri
Scènes de crimes Frédéric Schoendoerffer
Le libertin Gabriel Aghion
Un dérangement considérable Bernard Stora
Zaide, un petit air de vengeance Josée Dayan
Himalaya - l'enfance d'un chef Éric Valli
2000 Comme un aimant Kamel Saleh
Les rivières pourpres Mathieu Kassovitz
Harrison's Flowers Élie Chouraqui
Belphegor, Phantom of the Louvre Jean-Paul Salomé
De l'amour Jean-François Richet
Un aller simple Laurent Heynemann
Vidocq Pitof
2001 Origine océan quatre milliards d'annees sous les mers Gérald Calderon
L'enfant qui voulait être un ours Jannick Astrup
Winged Migration Jacques Perrin
2003 Agents secrets Frédéric Schoendoerffer
2004 Genesis Claude Nuridsany
Marie Pérennou
The Chorus Christophe Barratier
Let's Be Friends Éric Toledano and Olivier Nakache
Brice de Nice James Huth
Milady Josée Dayan Television
2005 Sometimes in April Raoul Peck Television
Les Rois maudits Josée Dayan Miniseries
2006 Gaspard le bandit Benoît Jacquot Television
The White Planet Thierry Piantanida
Thierry Ragobert
2007 Truands Frédéric Schoendoerffer
The Second Wind Alain Corneau
2008 Female Agents Jean-Paul Salomé
Living in Emergency Mark N. Hopkins Documentary
MR 73 Olivier Marchal
Agathe Cléry Étienne Chatilliez
2009 Oceans Jacques Perrin Documentary
Villa Amalia Benoît Jacquot
Coraline Henry Selick
The Secret of Kells Tomm Moore
Lucky Luke James Huth
2010 Babies Thomas Balmes Documentary
Turk's Head Pascal Elbé
The Chameleon Jean-Paul Salomé
The Counterfeiters Benoît Jacquot
2011 My Worst Nightmare Anne Fontaine
La Clé des champs Claude Nuridsany
Marie Pérennou
2012 La Mer à l'aube Volker Schlöndorff Television
Farewell, My Queen Benoît Jacquot
Houba! On the Trail of the Marsupilami Alain Chabat
La Rizière Xiaoling Zhu
Happiness Never Comes Alone James Huth
Ludwig II Peter Sehr
Pour toi j'ai tué Laurent Heynemann Television
2013 Playing Dead Jean-Paul Salomé
Amazonia Thierry Ragobert
2014 Gemma Bovery Anne Fontaine
Song of the Sea Tomm Moore
Three Hearts Benoît Jacquot
Mune: Guardian of the Moon Benoît Philippon
Alexandre Heboyan
2015 Diary of a Chambermaid Benoît Jacquot
Seasons Jacques Perrin
2016 Brice 3 James Huth
Never Ever Benoît Jacquot
Voyage à travers le cinéma français Bertrand Tavernier
Marie Curie Marie Noelle
2017 La mélodie Rachid Hami
Tall Tales from the Magical Garden of Antoon Krings Antoon Krings
Arnaud Delalande
2018 White Fang Alexandre Espigares
2020 Wolfwalkers Tomm Moore
Ross Stewart
2022 Wendell & Wild Henry Selick
TBA The Shadow King Henry Selick

Awards and nominations[edit]

1997: César de la meilleure musique écrite pour un film pour Microcosmos: Le Peuple de l'herbe de Claude Nuridsany et Marie Pérennou

1997: Victoire de la musique de la meilleure musique de film pour Microcosmos: Le Peuple de l'herbe de Claude Nuridsany et Marie Pérennou

2000: César de la meilleure musique pour Himalaya: L'Enfance d'un chef d'Éric Valli

2001: Nomination au César de la meilleure musique pour Les Rivières Pourpres

2002: Nomination au César de la meilleure musique pour Le Peuple Migrateur

2004: European Award de la meilleure musique de film pour Les Choristes de Christophe Barratier

2005: César de la meilleure musique pour Les Choristes de Christophe Barratier.

2005: Victoire de la musique pour Les Choristes de Christophe Barratier

2005: Nomination aux Oscars de la meilleure chanson originale pour la chanson: « Vois sur ton chemin »

2005: Étoile d'or du compositeur de musique originale de films, pour sa composition pour les films Les Choristes, de Christophe Barratier et Genesis, de Claude Nuridsany et Marie Pérennou

2007: Grand prix Sacem de la musique pour l'audiovisuel

2010: Annie Award for "Music in a Feature Production" for Coraline

2011: Nomination au César de la meilleure musique pour Océans

2011: Lauréat du prix France Musique-Sacem de la musique de film pour la musique d'Au fond des bois de Benoît Jacquot1

2013: Nomination au César de la meilleure musique pour Les Adieux à la reine de Benoît Jacquet

2015: Nomination for 42nd Annual Annie Awards for Music In A Feature Production (with Kíla) for the Song of The Sea

2022: Lifetime Achievement Award from the World Soundtrack Academy


  1. ^ "Coraline's Uesugi Wins Annie, But Not Miyazaki, Hisaishi". Anime News Network. 7 February 2010. Retrieved 8 February 2010.
  2. ^ "Tall Tales From the Magical Garden of Antoon Krings (Drôles de petites bêtes)". Retrieved 29 August 2022.

External links[edit]