Maurice Jaubert

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Maurice Jaubert (1900–1940) was a French composer. Born in Nice on January 3, 1900, he was the second son of François Jaubert, a lawyer who would become the president of the Nice bar, and of the former Haydée Faraut. He received his high school education at the Lycée Masséna, where he graduated in 1916. During this period, he also enrolled at the Nice Conservatory of music where he studied harmony, counterpoint and piano. He was awarded the first piano prize in 1916.

Jaubert left for Paris and studied law and literature at the Sorbonne. When he returned to his native town in 1919, he was the youngest lawyer in France. His first compositions date back this period but soon after he undertook his military service and became officer in engineering. Demobilized in 1922, Jaubert decided to give up law practice and devote all his time to music. The next year, he completed his musical education in Paris with Albert Groz.

Jaubert’s compositions at the time include songs, piano pieces, chamber music, and divertissements. He wrote his first stage music in 1925 for a play by Calderon, Le Magicien prodigieux, using the Pleyela. He was then hired by Pleyel to record rolls on the Pleyela, a revolutionary player piano at the time. Indeed, Jaubert was always attracted by technical innovations that could serve his artistic aspirations. While working on this play, he met a young soprano, Marthe Bréga, who would sing most of his vocal composItions. They married in 1926, with Maurice Ravel as Jaubert’s best man. They had a daughter, Françoise, in 1927.

In 1929, while pursuing his work for the concert hall and the stage, Maurice Jaubert began writing and conducting for cinema. Among his most important collaborations in the following decade were Alberto Cavalcanti’s Le Petit Chaperon Rouge; Jacques and Pierre Prévert’s L'Affaire est dans le sac; Jean Vigo’s Zero for Conduct and L’Atalante; René Clair’s Quatorze Juillet and Le Dernier Milliardaire; Julien Duvivier’s Carnet de bal (Life Dances On) and La Fin du Jour (The End of a Day); Henri Storck’s Belgian documentaries LÎle de Pâques and Regards sur la Belgique ancienne; and Marcel Carné’s Drôle de drame, Hôtel du Nord, Quai des brumes (Port of Shadows), and Le Jour se lève (Daybreak).

Although he understood and appreciated film, scoring them was but one of Jaubert's creative activities. As music director of Pathé-Nathan studio, he conducted the film scores of several other composers, including Arthur Honegger and Darius Milhaud. He regularly conducted at concerts in France and abroad. His writings comprise articles and lectures, as well as a large number of letters that capture his political opinions. how he viewed his times, and his musical tastes (for example, he was a strong supporter of Kurt Weill when that composer was widely misunderstood).

War, however, disrupted Jaubert's artistic path. Mobilized on September 1939, he joined an engineering company he would command as a reserve captain. His letters to his wife reflect a spirit of sacrifice tinged with deep humanism. Jaubert did not live to his last two compositions, written at his base camp. Fatally wounded in action, he died a few hours later at the Baccarat Hospital on June 19, 1940.

Biography attributed to Emmanuel Chamboredon from Milan Records.

Concert Works[edit]

  • Impromptu (?) : for piano ;
  • 6 Inventions (?) : for piano ;
  • Suite en la (?) : for cello and piano ;
  • 4 Romances (1924) : for voice and piano ;
  • Cinq chants sahariens (1924) : for voice and small ensemble ;
  • Les Pêcheurs (1925) : ballet
  • Chants de la Côte (1925) «Popular Songs from Provence and Nice county» harmonized for one voice and piano ;
  • Contrebande (1927) : chamber opera based on a text by Georges Neveux ;
  • The Lie of Nina Petrovna (1929) : suite for piano taken from the cinematic score ;
  • Intermezzo (1929) : for piano and orchestra, taken from his cinematic score The Lie of Nina Petrovna ;
  • Cinq danses de l'Amazonie (1930) : for orchestra ;
  • Le jour (1931) : choreographic poem for symphony orchestra ;
  • Suite française (1932) : for orchestra ;
  • Quatorze Juillet (1933) : suite of danses for piano taken from his cinematic score ;
  • Ode à la Montagne (1933) : for orchestra ;
  • Deus Abraham (1934) : motet ;
  • Ballade (1934) : «Symphonie de Lewis» for orchestra, taken from Tessa ;
  • The Little Riding Hood (1935) : suite for piano, burlesque suite for 12 instruments
  • Nativité (1935) : cantate for soli, choir and orchestra ;
  • Cantate pour le temps pascal (1935) : for soli, choir and orchestra ;
  • Trio italien (1935) : for violin, viola and cello ;
  • Sonate a due (1936) : for violon, cello and string orchestra ;
  • Concert flamand (1936) : for orchestra ;
  • Intermèdes (1936) for string orchestra ;
  • Normandie (1937) : ballet for orchestra ;
  • Géographies (1937) : for choir and orchestra ;
  • Jeanne d'Arc (1937) : symphonie concertante for soli, choir and orchestra ;
  • Proses (1938) : pour mixed choir and orchestra ;
  • L'Eau vive (1938) : « 5 chants de métier from Haute-Provence» based on texts by Jean Giono ;
  • Caprice italien (1938) : concerto for string orchestra ;
  • Saisir (1939) : five melodies for soprano and small orchestra ;
  • Trois Psaumes pour le temps de guerre (1940) : for women choir, harp and piano.


Maurice Jaubert played a small role as an orchestra conductor in La Nuit de décembre by Kurt Bernhardt, produced in 1939.


  • Georges Delerue conducts the film music of Maurice Jaubert : Le Jour se lève, L'Atalante, Le petit chaperon rouge, Un carnet de bal, Le Quai des brumes, Madrid Symphony Orchestra, Disques Cinémusique DCM 110 (recorded live in 1986, P 2003). Online presentation.
  • Maurice Jaubert - L'Atalante, Quai des brumes et autres musiques de films : also includes excerpts from Zéro de conduite, 14 juillet and L'île de Pâques. Orchestras conducted by Patrice Mestral and Serge Baudo. Milan CD CH 274.
  • Suite Française, Intermèdes and other Orchestral Works by l'Orchestre de chambre de Nice conducted by Jacques-Francis Manzone. Also includes piano pieces performed by Yoko Sawai, Disques Cinémusique Classique, recorded in 1989 and 2009, P 2009). Online presentation.
  • 25 ans de musique de cinéma français, orchestra conducted by Serge Baudo : Excerpts from film music scores, movie songs and piaono pieces performed by par Yoko Sawai, Disques Cinémusique DCM 122, (recorded in 1956 and 2009, P 2009). One third of the program is devoted to Maurice Jaubert. Online presentation.
  • Concert Maurice Jaubert (2 CD) : Ballade, Trois psaumes pour le temps de guerre, Jeanne d'Arc, Géographies, Cantate pour le temps pascal. Choeur et orchestre national de la RTF conducted by Jean Martinon. Jacqueline Brumaire, soprano. Restored and edited version of a 1952 live recording, Disques Cinémusique Classique (P 2017). Presentation online.

External links[edit]