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"Autumn Leaves" is a popular song and jazz standard composed by Joseph Kosma with original lyrics by Jacques Prévert in French, and later by Johnny Mercer in English. An instrumental version by pianist Roger Williams was a #1 best-seller in the USA Billboard charts of 1955.

"Les feuilles mortes"
Song by Yves Montand and Irène Joachim
English title"Autumn Leaves"
Released1946 by Enoch & Cie (fr)
GenreJazz, pop
Composer(s)Joseph Kosma
Lyricist(s)Jacques Prévert (French), Johnny Mercer (English)


Kosma was a native of Hungary who was introduced to Prévert in Paris. They collaborated on the song ''Les Feuilles mortes'' [fr] ("The Dead Leaves") for the 1946 film Les Portes de la nuit (Gates of the Night) where it was sung by Irène Joachim.[1] Kosma was influenced by a piece of ballet music, "Rendez-vous" written for Roland Petit, which was itself borrowed partially from "Poème d'octobre" by Jules Massenet.[2] The first commercial recordings of "Les Feuilles mortes" were released in 1950, by Cora Vaucaire [fr][3] and by Yves Montand.[4] Johnny Mercer wrote English lyrics and gave it the title "Autumn Leaves".[1]

Structure and chord progressionEdit

The song is in AABC form.[5] "Autumn Leaves" offers a popular way for beginning jazz musicians to become acquainted with jazz harmony as the chord progression consists almost solely of ii–V–I and ii–V sequences which are typical of jazz. It was originally, and is most commonly, performed in the key of G minor, but is also played in E minor and other keys. Eva Cassidy's version (clip on the right) is played in B-flat minor.

Its iv7–VII7–IIImaj7–VImaj7–iiø7–V7–i chord progression is an example of the circle-of-fifths progression.[6]


Other versionsEdit

As a jazz standard, "Autumn Leaves" has accumulated more than a thousand commercial recordings.[7] Among those by notable performers are:


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Gioia, Ted (2012). The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire. New York City: Oxford University Press. pp. 24–26. ISBN 978-0-19-993739-4.
  2. ^ Massin, Brigitte (1999). Les Joachim: Une famille de musiciens. Paris: Fayard. ISBN 978-2213604183.
  3. ^ "Les Feuilles mortes; Cora Vaucaire". Bibliothèque nationale de France. 1950.
  4. ^ "Les Feuilles mortes; Yves Montand". Bibliothèque nationale de France. 1950.
  5. ^ Spitzer, Peter (2001). Jazz Theory Handbook, p.81. ISBN 0-7866-5328-0.
  6. ^ Kostka, Stefan; Payne, Dorothy; Almén, Byron (2013). Tonal harmony with an introduction to twentieth-century music (7th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. pp. 46, 238. ISBN 978-0-07-131828-0.
  7. ^ "Autumn Leaves".
  8. ^ Anonymous. "1987 Programs & Ticket Stubs". The Bluecoats Drum and Bugle Corps. Archived from the original on 2007-09-29. Retrieved 2006-11-07. As listed in 1987 program
  9. ^ "CLAPTON by Eric Clapton - MP3 Downloads, Streaming Music, Lyrics". Eric Clapton Official Website.
  10. ^ Poet, J. "One by One". AllMusic. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  11. ^ "Jonathan More (Coldcut): Philosophy". Sound On Sound. January 1994. Retrieved 6 October 2019.
  12. ^ "A Bing Crosby Discography". BING magazine. International Club Crosby. Retrieved December 30, 2018.
  13. ^ Cf. Miles Davis discography by Peter Losin.
  14. ^ "Sergio Franchi". Archived from the original on 2017-03-01. Retrieved 2018-10-29.
  15. ^ François, Corinne (2000). Jacques Prévert, Paroles. Editions Bréal. ISBN 978-2-84291-702-9. Retrieved 16 November 2018.
  16. ^ damiimVEVO (2018-02-15), Dami Im - Autumn Leaves, retrieved 2018-06-16
  17. ^ "The Jerry Lee Lewis Show". AllMusic. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  18. ^ Flanagan, Rob. "As Is". AllMusic. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  19. ^ The Big Show. "BigShow-02". BigShow. Archived from the original on 26 December 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-25. As carried on Internet radio at
  20. ^ "Ben Webster: Autumn Leaves - Digipak - Futura Et Marge". Jazz Messengers. Archived from the original on 2015-02-13. Retrieved 2016-08-22.
  21. ^ "Autumn leaves: Ben Webster et le Trio Georges Arvanitas (Music)". 2016-06-29. Retrieved 2016-08-22.
  22. ^ Anonymous. "Roger Williams". Nebraska Music Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2006-11-07. In 1965, Williams added a chorus and charted it again at no. 10 Billboard Easy Listening as "Autumn Leaves - 1965."

External linksEdit