Francis Lai

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Francis Lai
Francis Albert Lai

(1932-04-26)26 April 1932
Died7 November 2018(2018-11-07) (aged 86)
Paris, France
Occupation Film score composer
Years active1952–2018

Francis Albert Lai (French:  [fʁɑ̃sis lɛ] ; 26 April 1932 7 November 2018) was a French composer, noted for his film scores. He won the 1970 Oscar for Best Music, Original Score and the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score for the film Love Story . The soundtrack album went to No. 2 in the Billboard album charts and the film's theme, "Where Do I Begin", was a hit single for Andy Williams.

The French people, are a Romance ethnic group and nation who are identified with the country of France. This connection may be ethnic, legal, historical, or cultural.

Composer person who creates music, either by musical notation or oral tradition

A composer is a musician who is an author of music in any form, including vocal music, instrumental music, electronic music, and music which combines multiple forms. A composer may create music in any music genre, including, for example, classical music, musical theatre, blues, folk music, jazz, and popular music. Composers often express their works in a written musical score using musical notation.

A film score is original music written specifically to accompany a film for the actors. The score forms part of the film's soundtrack, which also usually includes pre-existing music, dialogue and sound effects, and comprises a number of orchestral, instrumental, or choral pieces called cues, which are timed to begin and end at specific points during the film in order to enhance the dramatic narrative and the emotional impact of the scene in question. Scores are written by one or more composers, under the guidance of, or in collaboration with, the film's director or producer and are then usually performed by an ensemble of musicians – most often comprising an orchestra or band, instrumental soloists, and choir or vocalists – known as playback singers and recorded by a sound engineer.


Life and career

Lai was born on 26 April 1932, in Nice, France, the son of market gardeners of Italian origin. [1] [2] [3] From a very early age Lai was fascinated by music and he played first in his local regional orchestras. In Marseilles he discovered jazz and met Claude Goaty, a singer of popular songs in the 50s. [4]

Nice Prefecture and commune in Provence-Alpes-Côte dAzur, France

Nice is the seventh most populous urban area in France and the capital of the Alpes-Maritimes département. The metropolitan area of Nice extends beyond the administrative city limits, with a population of about 1 million on an area of 721 km2 (278 sq mi). Located in the French Riviera, on the south east coast of France on the Mediterranean Sea, at the foot of the Alps, Nice is the second-largest French city on the Mediterranean coast and the second-largest city in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region after Marseille. Nice is approximately 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) from the principality of Monaco and 30 kilometres (19 mi) from the French-Italian border. Nice's airport serves as a gateway to the region.

Market garden relatively small-scale production of fruits, vegetables and flowers as cash crops

A market garden is the relatively small-scale production of fruits, vegetables and flowers as cash crops, frequently sold directly to consumers and restaurants. The diversity of crops grown on a small area of land, typically, from under one acre to a few acres, or sometimes in greenhouses distinguishes it from other types of farming. Such a farm on a larger scale is sometimes called a truck farm.

Jazz is a music genre that originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans, United States. It originated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and developed from roots in blues and ragtime. Jazz is seen by many as "America's classical music". Since the 1920s Jazz Age, jazz has become recognized as a major form of musical expression. It then emerged in the form of independent traditional and popular musical styles, all linked by the common bonds of African-American and European-American musical parentage with a performance orientation. Jazz is characterized by swing and blue notes, call and response vocals, polyrhythms and improvisation. Jazz has roots in West African cultural and musical expression, and in African-American music traditions including blues and ragtime, as well as European military band music. Intellectuals around the world have hailed jazz as "one of America's original art forms".

While in his twenties, Lai left home and followed Goaty to Paris, where he became part of the lively Montmartre music scene. The "Taverne d'Attilio" on the Place du Tertre in Montmartre, was a favorite place for the young talented Bernard Dimey  [ fr ] with whom Lai composed his first song. Their song-writing partnership would extend to a hundred or so. After a short period with the orchestra of Michel Magne, Lai became accompanist for Édith Piaf and also one of her composers. [4]

Paris Capital of France

Paris is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometres and an official estimated population of 2,140,526 residents as of 1 January 2019. Since the 17th century, Paris has been one of Europe's major centres of finance, diplomacy, commerce, fashion, science, and the arts. The City of Paris is the centre and seat of government of the Île-de-France, or Paris Region, which has an estimated official 2019 population of 12,213,364, or about 18 percent of the population of France. The Paris Region had a GDP of €709 billion in 2017. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit Worldwide Cost of Living Survey in 2018, Paris was the second most expensive city in the world, after Singapore, and ahead of Zürich, Hong Kong, Oslo and Geneva. Another source ranked Paris as most expensive, on a par with Singapore and Hong Kong, in 2018.

Montmartre hill in the north of Paris, France

Montmartre is a large hill in Paris's 18th arrondissement. It is 130 m (430 ft) high and gives its name to the surrounding district, part of the Right Bank in the northern section of the city. The historic district established by the City of Paris in 1995 is bordered by rue Caulaincourt and rue Custine on the north, rue de Clignancourt on the east, and boulevard de Clichy and boulevard de Rochechouart to the south, containing 60 ha. Montmartre is primarily known for its artistic history, the white-domed Basilica of the Sacré-Cœur on its summit, and as a nightclub district. The other church on the hill, Saint Pierre de Montmartre, built in 1147, was the church of the prestigious Montmartre Abbey. On August 15, 1534, Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Saint Francis Xavier and five other companions bound themselves by vows in the Martyrium of Saint Denis, 11 rue Yvonne Le Tac, the first step in the creation of the Jesuits.

Place du Tertre square in Paris, France

The Place du Tertre is a square in the 18th arrondissement of Paris, France. Only a few streets away from Montmartre's Basilica of the Sacré Cœur and the Lapin Agile, it is near the summit of the city's elevated Montmartre quarter. Place du Tertre was the heart of the prestigious Benedictine Montmartre Abbey, established in 1133 by King Louis VI. Montmartre Abbey thrived through the centuries and until the French revolution under the patronage of the Kings of France. Place du Tertre was opened to the public in 1635 as Montmartre village central square. From the end of the 18th century until World War One, the whole Montmartre Boheme could been seen here: painters, songwriters and poets.

In 1965 he met filmmaker Claude Lelouch and was hired to help write the score for the film A Man and a Woman . Released in 1966, the film was a major international success, earning a number of Academy Awards. [5] The young Lai received a Golden Globe Award nomination for "Best Original Score". [6] This initial success brought more opportunities to work for the film industry both in his native France, where he continued to work with Lelouch on scores to films such as Vivre pour vivre (1967), Un homme qui me plaît (1969), Le voyou (1970) and La bonne année (1973), as well as in Great Britain and the United States. [7] [8] He was known for his support of Mireille Mathieu in many compositions and recordings. [1] In 1970 he wrote the score for director René Clément's film, Rider on the Rain ("Le passager de la pluie"). It sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold disc in September 1971. [9]

Claude Lelouch French film director, writer, cinematographer, actor and producer

Claude Barruck Joseph Lelouch is a French film director, writer, cinematographer, actor and producer.

<i>A Man and a Woman</i> 1966 film by Claude Lelouch

A Man and a Woman is a 1966 French film written and directed by Claude Lelouch and starring Anouk Aimée and Jean-Louis Trintignant. Written by Lelouch and Pierre Uytterhoeven, the film is about a young widow and widower who meet by chance at their children's boarding school and whose budding relationship is complicated by the memories of their deceased spouses. The film is notable for its lush photography, which features frequent segues between full color, black-and-white, and sepia-toned shots, and for its memorable musical score by Francis Lai.

Academy Awards American awards given annually for excellence in cinematic achievements

The Academy Awards, also officially and popularly known as the Oscars, are awards for artistic and technical merit in the film industry. Given annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), the awards are an international recognition of excellence in cinematic achievements as assessed by the Academy's voting membership. The various category winners are awarded a copy of a golden statuette, officially called the "Academy Award of Merit", although more commonly referred to by its nickname "Oscar". The statuette depicts a knight rendered in Art Deco style.

In 1970 Lai won the Academy Award for Best Music, Original Score and the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score for the film Love Story . In the United States, the soundtrack album went to No. 2 in the Billboard album charts and the film's theme, "Where Do I Begin", was a hit single with lyrics by Carl Sigman for traditional pop singer Andy Williams. [10] [11] The song would also be recorded successfully by Lai himself, with a full orchestra, and by Henry Mancini and Shirley Bassey. [12] [13] [14] Lai's "Love Story" theme was heard in the 1978 Love Story sequel titled Oliver's Story , although the main score was composed by Lee Holdridge. [15]

<i>Love Story</i> (1970 film) 1970 romantic drama film written by Erich Segal

Love Story is a 1970 American romantic drama film written by Erich Segal, who was also the author of the best-selling novel of the same name. It was produced by Howard G. Minsky and directed by Arthur Hiller and starred Ali MacGraw and Ryan O'Neal, alongside John Marley, Ray Milland, and Tommy Lee Jones in his film debut in a minor role.

A soundtrack, also written sound track, can be recorded music accompanying and synchronized to the images of a motion picture, book, television program, or video game; a commercially released soundtrack album of music as featured in the soundtrack of a film, video, or television presentation; or the physical area of a film that contains the synchronized recorded sound.

The Billboard 200 is a record chart ranking the 200 most popular music albums and EPs in the United States. It is published weekly by Billboard magazine. It is frequently used to convey the popularity of an artist or groups of artists. Often, a recording act will be remembered by its "number ones", those of their albums that outperformed all others during at least one week. The chart grew from a weekly top 10 list in 1956 to become a top 200 in May 1967, and acquired its present title in March 1992. Its previous names include the Billboard Top LPs (1961–72), Billboard Top LPs & Tape (1972–84), Billboard Top 200 Albums (1984–85) and Billboard Top Pop Albums.

His movie scores included films as diverse as Mayerling , Three into Two Won't Go , International Velvet , Édith et Marcel , and Michael Winner films such as I'll Never Forget What's'isname and Hannibal Brooks . Lai also had success with music written for softcore erotic films like Emmanuelle 2 (1975) and Bilitis (1977). [16] Reviewing the soundtrack for Bilitis for AllMusic, Thom Jurek said: "The result would be hilarious if it weren't so predictable. This music is light to the point of almost not being there... Lai uses synthesizers, acoustic guitars, and a truckload of strings to weave what is supposed to be the "perfect" setting for two young lovers to do what young lovers do, but has it all coming out of the wash sounding like a commercial for those laundry detergents that are airy fresh, or a silent movie score where the music is supposed to tell you that this is a pensive moment." [17]

His composition "Aujourd'hui C'est Toi" (Today It's You) is probably best known in the UK as the theme music for the long-running BBC current affairs documentary series Panorama . [18]

In a career spanning forty years, Lai also wrote music for television programs and alone or in collaboration with others has composed music for more than one hundred films and personally wrote more than six hundred songs. Notably, he penned the music for the Perry Como hit "I Think of You", with lyrics by Rod McKuen. [19]

Personal life and death

In 1968 Lai married Dagmar Puetz. The couple had two sons and one daughter. [2]

Lai died on 7 November 2018, aged 86, at his home in Paris. [20] [21] [22] [23]


Lai enjoyed frequent collaborations with French director Claude Lelouch. As a composer, Lai has at least 131 film credits to his name. [3] AllMusic lists 1,321 individual credits. [24]


Award nominations:

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