Other Composers

Jean-Claude Petit - folklore of France:

Jean-Claude Petit - Jean de Florette soundtrack CD cover As evidenced by the scores to the two movies for which he is most famous "Jean de Florette" and "Manon des Source", Petit's style is very much based on Classical and Romantic traditions. Indeed he adapted a theme from Giuseppe Verdi's "The Force of Destiny" as the main theme linking both movies, and there are some hints of Strauss and opera, overlain with light Impressionist touches and elements of folk music. There seems to be a uniquely French quality to the music, tragic yet whimsical and a touch sardonic, which helps to bring out both the humour and pathos in the story. He uses a harmonica (expertly played as ever by Toots Thielemans) as a kind of substitute for a traditional French accordion, but with that added expressiveness to make the story personal and involving. Strings, woodwind, voice and harp (and the unusual psaltery) get plenty of opportunity to shine in his orchestrations. The main theme has been made famous by its frequent use in television and film adverts for Stella Artois, its mood capturing a stereotypical mix of melancholy and melodrama with a certain "c'est la vie" shrug of the shoulders.

Much of the soundtrack to "Cyrano de Bergerac" seems very classical in its inspiration, though there was a court case claiming a couple of tracks borrowed ideas from Danny Elfman's score to "Batman".

Petit plays an active role in SACEM, the French composer's society.

Film music by Jean-Claude Petit:

    Jean-Claude Petit - Manon des Sources soundtrack CD cover
  • Mayrig - (released as "Mother" in the US)
  • 588 Rue Paradis - (confusingly this was also released as "Mother" in the US)
  • Tranches de Vie - (Slices of Life)
  • Jean de Florette - starring Gerard Depardieu as the harmonica-playing title character
  • Manon des Sources - continues the story begun in "Jean de Florette" using and developing the same musical ingredients
  • Cyrano de Bergerac - this is the film starring Gerard Depardieu in the title role which was released shortly after Steve Martin's modern version "Roxanne"
  • The Return of the Musketeers
  • Uranus - also for Claude Berri, the award-winning director of "Jean de Florette" and "Manon des Sources"
  • Playboys
  • The Horseman on the Roof
  • Beaumarchais the Scoundrel
  • Scary Movie - not the score (by David Kitay) but the track "Visit to Florida"
  • Face - film about shooting a Taiwanese film in Paris
  • First Growth
  • Dalida

Television music by Jean-Claude Petit:

Petit has also done a lot of work for television including series, TV films and mini series. Most of this has been in his native country, so English speakers may not have much opportunity to experience this work.

  • Lady Chatterley
  • Les Miserables - film for TV

Jean-Claude Petit - Recommendations:

It should come as no great surprise that we are going to recommend the two soundtrack albums which make up the complete story of the novel by Marcel Pagnol as made into film by Claude Berri. "Jean de Florette" can be found at these links: Amazon.com in the US or Amazon.co.uk, and "Manon des Sources" can be found at these links: Amazon.com in the US or Amazon.co.uk. In the same way that you must watch both films to learn the full story, you need both albums to appreciate the musical arc of this complete soundtrack.