Auric was a child prodigy. He composed a lot of music from the age of 10, but most of these early works he destroyed later. He grew up in Montpellier. In 1913 his parents moved to Paris so that he could study at the Paris Conservatoire. He studied with the composer Vincent D'Indy at the Schola Cantorum.
By the time he had joined Les Six he had already become a composer with a strong, personal style of writing. His music is often energetic and aggressive.
Auric wrote ballet music for Diaghilev. When Jean Cocteau started making motion pictures at the beginning of the 1930s Auric began writing film music. He wrote soundtracks for a number of French and British films, and then for Hollywood movies, too. The Song from Moulin Rouge made it to the hit parade.
In 1962 he gave up writing for moving pictures when he became director of the Opéra National de Paris and then chairman of SACEM, the French Performing Rights Society. Auric continued to write classical chamber music, especially for wind instruments, for the rest of his life.