Jean-Michel Bernard began playing the piano at the age of two. When he was 14, he received first place at the Bordeaux Conservatory and later graduated from the Paris ‘Ecole Normale de Musique’. At 19, he recorded with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London, whilst pursuing a career as a jazz musician and performing with prominent Jazz artists such as Wild Bill Davis, Jimmy Woode (Duke Ellington’s bassist) and Eddie Davis among others.
His career as a composer began with animated films, then as musical director of the successful radio show L’Oreille en Coin on National Pubic Radio France Inter from 1987 to 1991. Collaborators include Philip Kaufman, Lalo Schifrin, Ennio Morricone, Claude Bolling, and many more. Between 2000 and 2003, he performed with the Ray Charles Quartet on the European and Australian tours as organist and conductor, “this guy is a genius” Ray used to say concerning Jean-Michel Bernard. He also scored many documentaries and commercials during the 90’s.
He frequently works with director Michel Gondry and has composed songs for films including ‘Human Nature’ and ‘The Science of Sleep’, which screened at the Sundance and Berlin Film Festivals. He was nominated for the World Soundtrack Awards in 2007 as Discovery of the Year and won the France Musique/UCMF award at the Cannes Film Festival the same year.
In 2008 he scored the music for Michel Gondry’s ‘Be Kind Rewind’, ‘Cash’ by Eric Besnard, and ‘A Pain in the Ass’ by Francis Veber. The same day ‘Be Kind Rewind’ was shown at Sundance Festival, Jean-Michel Bernard performed alongside rapper/ singer Mos Def and Gondry, an avid drummer.
The following year, the Cannes Film Festival invited Jean-Michel to represent France in the film music concert program. He also received an award for his achievement outside of his native country from the European Union of Film Music Composers (UCMF) and was appointed as sound designer for both HBO’s channel and website.
In 2010 he collaborated with French actress and director Fanny Ardant on her film Chimères Absentes and worked on Academy Award-winning feature film ‘Hugo’ by Martin Scorsese. In 2013, he collaborated again with Fanny Ardant for her movie ‘Cadences Obstinées’ starring Gerard Depardieu, and scored the music to Joel Hopkins’ film ‘Love Punch’ starring Pierce Brosnan and Emma Thompson. In 2015 he scored ‘Love at First Child’ by Anne Giafferi.
In 2014, Jean-Michel Bernard began teaching film music classes at the Paris Conservatory and was guest of honor with Michael Giacchino at the Audi Talent Awards in Paris with the Paris Symphonic Orchestra, at Braunschweig Festival and at Soundtrack Cologne Festival.
He participated as composer, arranger and performer on the upcoming album by ‘The Avalanches’ and scored ‘Terra’, a contemporary dance project which premiered at the Coronet Theatre in London in March 2016.
Jean-Michel Bernard works out of his studio ‘POPION’ in southern Paris, 20 minutes by train from the Gare du Nord. The studio has a permanent sound engineer and can work in 5-1. It also houses Jean-Michel’s Steinway B211. There is also a smaller studio at POPION, with a wide variety of vintage keyboards, guitars and drums.