Paul Bonneau

Paul Bonneau (14 September 1918 – 8 July 1995) was a French conductor, composer and arranger,[1] whose career was mainly in the field of light music and films.

Paul Bonneau
Paul Alfred Bonneau

(1918-09-14)14 September 1918
Died8 July 1995(1995-07-08) (aged 76)
NationalityFrench nationality
EducationConservatoire de Paris
Years active1944–1982


Born in Moret-sur-Loing in 1918, Paul Bonneau studied music at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Paris in the same class as Maurice Baquet, Henri Betti, Henri Dutilleux and Louiguy. He won the premier prix d'harmonie (1937) in the class of Jean Gallon, the premier prix de fugue (1942) in the class of Noël Gallon and the premier prix de composition (1945) in the class of Henri Büsser.

In 1939, he was Army deputy chief of music and in 1945 was made director of music for the Republican Guard. He then became conductor of light orchestral music on national radio, a position he held for thirty years. His first radio broadcast was on 27 November 1944. Bonneau wrote the score for Roland Petit's ballet Guernica, premiered in 1945.[2]

Over 30 years Paul Bonneau led 638 light music recording sessions, corresponding to more than 1,500 concerts broadcast on the national radio stations. In 1960, with the agreement of the RTF, he founded the vocal group Les Djinns who played and recorded 88 songs.

Bonneau worked as a composer or as co-composer to 51 French films, and many short films too. His other compositions include: a Suite pour orchestre, Concerto pour saxophone et orchestre, Suite pour saxophone et piano, Les Saisons for baritone and orchestra, Carillon de Westminster, symphonic poem, Tantum Ergo for tenor, choir and organ,[3] Ouverture pour un Drame, Un Français à New York and a Rhapsody for piano and orchestra. He was also the composer of light orchestral music suites, many pieces for orchestra; he set to music ten fables of Jean de La Fontaine, and composed of many light melodies and songs. He also wrote a large number of orchestral arrangements and vocal accompaniments for varieties.

In operetta, he was the musical arranger and composer of ballets at the Théâtre du Châtelet. He also adapted the songs of Jacques Offenbach for the operetta Offenbach's Folies Parisiennes (1976). In collaboration with Jack Ledru, he was the composer of La Parisienne created in Tours February 19, 1982. Bonneau made arrangements of many operettas, including Le Chanteur de Mexico (1951), La Toison d'Or and A la Jamaïque (1954), Méditerranée (1955), Rose de Noël and Le Secret de Marco-Polo (1959), Le Prince de Madrid (1967), L'Auberge du Cheval-Blanc (1968), Gipsy (1971), Les Trois Mousquetaires (1974) and Volga (1976).

Personal life

Paul Bonneau married the French pianist Jacqueline Robin on 22 January 1940 in Évreux. The couple had one child, and divorced in 1959.



  • 1949 : Le Silence de la mer (conductor of the Colonne orchestra)
  • 1950 : Les Enfants Terribles (conductor)
  • 1951 : Le plus joli péché du monde (composer)
  • 1953 : La Loterie du bonheur (composer)
  • 1953 : Moineaux de Paris (composer)
  • 1956 : Pitié pour les vamps (composer)
  • 1957 : L'Auberge en folie (co-composer)
  • 1957 : Adorables Démons (composer)
  • 1958 : En légitime défense (composer)
  • 1958 : La Fille de feu (composer)
  • 1959 : Deux hommes dans Manhattan (conductor)
  • 1959 : Visa pour l'enfer (composer)
  • 1961 : Napoléon II, l'aiglon (co-composer)


  1. Paul Bonneau at the BnF website, Accessed 8 March 2018.
  2. Roland Petit va danser “Guernica”. Regards. 15 February 1945, p15.
  3. Dictionnaire des compositeurs contemporains. In: Almanach de la musique 1950, ed Sarnette E. Editions de Flore & La Gazette des Lettres, Paris, 1950, p195.
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