Vladimir Cosma

Romanian Composer, Conductor and Violinist (b.1940, Bucharest)

Vladimir Cosma has composed nearly 200 pieces for cinema, theatre and cartoons, as well as opera and chamber music. He has unquestionably made his mark on late 20th century French cinema history.

Vladimir Cosma was born into a family of musicians; he studied violin and composition at the National Conservatory in Bucharest. In 1963, he arrived in Paris to study with Nadia Boulanger, a famous teacher. From 1964, he toured the world as a concert violinist whilst at the same time composing pieces such as Trois mouvements d’été for symphony orchestra, Oblique for cello and string orchestra, and stage and ballet music.  In 1966, he met Michel Legrand who introduces the idea of composing film music, this proved to be a decisive moment in Cosma’s career. His growing passion for cinema led to his first critical success, an original score for Yves Robert’s Alexandre le Bienheureux. This also marked the beginning of a long partnership with the director. 

Vladimir Cosma wrote numerous scores for cinema and television, notably for Gérard Oury, Francis Veber, Claude Pinoteau, Claude Zidi, Ettore Scola and Yves Boisset, without ever abandoning classical composition. He also wrote for musicians such as Chet Baker, Stéphane Grappelli, Jean-Luc Ponty, Nana Mouskouri, Diane Dufresne, and George Zamfir. In 2006, Cosma created Eh bien ! Dansez maintenant, for narrator and orchestra, setting Jean de la Fontaine’s Fables to music. It was performed at a concert at Victoria Hall in Geneva with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande and Lambert Wilson, as narrator. 

The next year saw the debut of his opera Marius et Fanny, based on Marius Pagnol, in Marseille. Then, in 2008, Les Aventures de Rabbi Jacob was played at the Palais des congrès in Paris. Alongside his career as a composer, Vladimir Cosma dedicated himself to conducting, and arranging his own film music. He regularly conducts symphony concerts, as in 2010 when he conducted the Orchestre national de l’Ile-de-France at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris. 

Six Landmark Dates in the Life of Vladimir Cosma 

1963: Arrived in Paris to study with Nadia Boulanger 

1966: Influential encounter with composer and arranger, Michel Legrand

1984: Awarded César for best film score for Ettore Scola’s Le Bal

2003: Made a Romanian Grand Officer of Culture

2010: Awarded the Henri-Langlois prize from the Cinémathèque Française, a French film organisation

2011: Publication of a phonographic anthology of his film scores featuring 91 full-length soundtracks

Six Key Films 

1968: Alexandre le bienheureux - Yves Robert

1973: Les Aventures de Rabbi Jacob - Gérard Oury

1980: Diva - Jean-Jacques Beineix – César for best original score

1982: Le père Noël est une ordure - Jean-Marie Poiré

1990:La Gloire de mon père - Yves Robert

1998: Le Dîner de cons - Francis Veber