As a young musician, Auric became friends with Erik Satie, he studied under D'Indy and attended the Paris Conservatory. He became a member of the group known as "Les Six" including Milhaud, Poulenc, Honegger, Tailleferre and Durey. He was a music critic for a time and of course a composer. His early works were largely in a classical vein, for concert performances, opera and ballet. His membership of Lex Six brought him into contact with Jean Cocteau (at that time a playwright) and that relationship led to writing settings of poetry and other texts as songs and musicals. When Cocteau turned to film making, it was natural that Auric would also turn to film music.
He wrote soundtracks for a large number of French films before finding work across the Channel which quickly led to his becoming the resident composer for the series of films commonly known as the "Ealing Comedies" after the studio which produced them. Since these films are widely known and fondly remembered among English speakers, the name of Auric is most closely associated with these films and this is why we have dubbed Auric "French yet very English". These films included the likes of "Passport to Pimlico", "The Lavender Hill Mob" and "The Titfield Thunderbolt" starring actors like Stanley Holloway, Alec Guinness and Joan Greenwood. By a strange coincidence, two of these films have a French connection - in "Passport to Pimlico" legal documents show that a street in London is part of Burgundy, and in "The Lavender Hill Mob" there is a dizzy scene on the Eiffel Tower. With "Moulin Rouge", Auric had the opportunity to portray his native country in an English-language film, and also wrote the successful song for this movie "Where is your Heart".
Auric's style is very much in the classical tradition, his formal musical education being quite evident, and the orchestration frequently transparent using only a handful of instruments. He was particularly adept at spanning the entire breadth of a symphony orchestra in the space of a minutes using combinations of only 2 or 3 instruments at a time. While his comedy scores are necessarily lighter in nature like Johann Strauss or Offenbach, he also created some darker more complex scores perhaps nearer to Richard Strauss or Stravinsky in feel, such as for the horror movie Dead of Night. Auric was to become director of the Paris Opera and also chairman of SACEM the French Music Copyright Society.
Here is a selection of albums with music and film music by Georges Auric, including a couple of albums with collected music by "Les Six". Note that the title track of "The Ladykillers: Those Glorious Ealing Films" was scored by Tristram Cary though Auric scored most of the rest.