Michel Legrand

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Michel Legrand
Michel Legrand Cabourg 2015.jpg
Legrand in 2015 at the Cabourg Film Festival
Michel Jean Legrand

(1932-02-24)24 February 1932
Paris, France
Died26 January 2019(2019-01-26) (aged 86)
OccupationFilm score composer
Jazz pianist
Years active1952–2019
Awards Academy Award for Best Original Song
1968 The Thomas Crown Affair
Academy Award for Best Original Score
1971 Summer of '42
1983 Yentl
BAFTA Award for Best Film Music
1971 Summer of '42
Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song
1968 The Thomas Crown Affair
AFI Award Best Original Score
1991 Dingo

Michel Jean Legrand (French pronunciation:  [miʃɛl ləɡʁɑ̃] ; 24 February 1932 – 26 January 2019) was a French musical composer, arranger, conductor, and jazz pianist. [1] Legrand was a prolific composer, having written over 200 film and television scores, in addition to many songs. [2] His scores for the films of French New Wave director Jacques Demy, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) and The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967), earned Legrand his first Academy Award nominations. Legrand won his first Oscar for the song "The Windmills of Your Mind" from The Thomas Crown Affair (1968). [3]

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.

Conducting Directing a musical performance by way of visible gestures

Conducting is the art of directing a musical performance, such as an orchestral or choral concert. It has been defined as "the art of directing the simultaneous performance of several players or singers by the use of gesture." The primary duties of the conductor are to interpret the score in a way which reflects the specific indications in that score, set the tempo, ensure correct entries by ensemble members, and "shape" the phrasing where appropriate. Conductors communicate with their musicians primarily through hand gestures, usually with the aid of a baton, and may use other gestures or signals such as eye contact. A conductor usually supplements their direction with verbal instructions to their musicians in rehearsal.

New Wave is a French film movement which emerged in the 1950s and 1960s. It is a form of European art cinema, and is often referred to as one of the most influential movements in the history of cinema. New Wave filmmakers were linked by their rejection of the traditional film conventions then dominating France, and by a spirit of iconoclasm. Common features of the New Wave included radical experimentation with editing, visual style, and narrative, as well as engagement with the social and political upheavals of the era.


Life and career

Legrand, who was of Armenian descent, [4] was born in Paris [5] to his father, Raymond Legrand, who was himself a conductor and composer, [6] and his mother, Marcelle Ter-Mikaëlian, who was the sister of conductor Jacques Hélian. [7] Raymond and Marcelle were married in 1929. [7]

Armenians ethnic group native to the Armenian Highland

Armenians are an ethnic group native to the Armenian Highlands of Western Asia.

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.

Raymond Legrand was a French composer and conductor.

Legrand composed more than two hundred film and television scores. [8] He won three Oscars [9] and five Grammys. [10] He studied music at the Conservatoire de Paris from age 11, working with, among others, Nadia Boulanger [10] and graduated with top honors as both a composer and a pianist. [8] He burst upon the international music scene at 22 when his album I Love Paris became a surprise hit. He established his name in the United States by working with such jazz stars as Miles Davis and Stan Getz. [1] His sister Christiane Legrand was a member of the Swingle Singers and his niece Victoria Legrand is a member of the indie rock duo Beach House. [11]

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.

Grammy Award Accolade by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States

A Grammy Award, or Grammy, is an award presented by The Recording Academy to recognize achievements in the music industry. The trophy depicts a gilded gramophone. The annual presentation ceremony features performances by prominent artists, and the presentation of those awards that have a more popular interest. The Grammys are the second of the Big Three major music awards held annually.

Conservatoire de Paris music school

The Conservatoire de Paris is a college of music and dance founded in 1795. Currently known as the Conservatoire national supérieur de musique et de danse de Paris (CNSMDP), it is situated in the avenue Jean Jaurès in the 19th arrondissement of Paris, France. The Conservatoire offers instruction in music and dance, drawing on the traditions of the "French School". Formerly the conservatory also included drama, but in 1946 that division was moved into a separate school, the Conservatoire national supérieur d'art dramatique (CNSAD), for acting, theatre and drama. Today the conservatories operate under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture and Communication and are associate members of PSL Research University. The CNSMDP is also associated with the Conservatoire national supérieur de musique et de danse de Lyon (CNSMDL).

Legrand composed music for Jacques Demy's films The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) and The Young Girls of Rochefort (1966), and appeared and performed in Agnès Varda's Cléo from 5 to 7 (1961). He also composed music for The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) (which features "The Windmills of Your Mind"), The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun (1970), The Go-Between (1971), Summer of '42 (1971), Orson Welles's last-completed film F for Fake (1974) and would later compose the score for Welles's posthumously-released movie The Other Side of the Wind (2018). He also composed the score for Yentl (1983), as well as the film score for Louis Malle's film Atlantic City (1980). His instrumental version of the theme from Brian's Song charted 56th in 1972 on the Billboard's pop chart. [12]

Jacques Demy film director

Jacques Demy was a French director, lyricist, and screenwriter. He appeared in the wake of the French New Wave alongside contemporaries like Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut. Demy's films are celebrated for their sumptuous visual style. Demy's style drew upon such diverse sources as classic Hollywood musicals, the documentary realism of his New Wave colleagues, fairy-tales, jazz, Japanese manga, and the opera. His films contain overlapping continuity, lush musical scores and motifs like teenaged love, labor rights, incest, and the intersection between dreams and reality. He is best known for the two musicals he directed in the mid-1960s: The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) and The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967).

<i>The Umbrellas of Cherbourg</i> 1964 film by Jacques Demy

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is a 1964 musical romantic drama film directed and written by Jacques Demy and starring Catherine Deneuve and Nino Castelnuovo. The music was composed by Michel Legrand. The film dialogue is all sung as recitative, including casual conversation, and is sung-through, or through-composed like some operas and stage musicals.

<i>The Young Girls of Rochefort</i> 1967 film by Jacques Demy

The Young Girls of Rochefort is a 1967 French musical comedy film written and directed by Jacques Demy. The ensemble cast is headlined by real-life sisters Catherine Deneuve and Françoise Dorléac, along with Gene Kelly, and features Jacques Perrin, Michel Piccoli, Danielle Darrieux, George Chakiris, and Grover Dale. The choreography was by Norman Maen.

Legrand died of sepsis, [13] [14] during the night of 25 to 26 January 2019, at the American Hospital of Paris in Neuilly-sur-Seine, [13] where he had been hospitalized for two weeks for a pulmonary infection. His funeral was held in Paris at the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral on 1 February 2019. [15] He was interred at the Père Lachaise Cemetery. [16] He remained active until his death and had concerts scheduled to take place in the spring. [17]

Sepsis Life-threatening organ dysfunction triggered by infection

Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that arises when the body's response to infection causes injury to its own tissues and organs. Common signs and symptoms include fever, increased heart rate, increased breathing rate, and confusion. There may also be symptoms related to a specific infection, such as a cough with pneumonia, or painful urination with a kidney infection. In the very young, old, and people with a weakened immune system, there may be no symptoms of a specific infection and the body temperature may be low or normal, rather than high. Severe sepsis is sepsis causing poor organ function or insufficient blood flow. Insufficient blood flow may be evident by low blood pressure, high blood lactate, or low urine output. Septic shock is low blood pressure due to sepsis that does not improve after fluid replacement.

American Hospital of Paris Hospital in Paris, France

The American Hospital of Paris, founded in 1906, is a private, not-for-profit hospital that is certified under the French healthcare system. Located in Neuilly-sur-Seine, in the western suburbs of Paris, France, it has 187 surgical, medical, and obstetric beds.

Neuilly-sur-Seine Commune in Île-de-France, France

Neuilly-sur-Seine is a French commune just west of Paris, in the department of Hauts-de-Seine. A suburb of Paris, Neuilly is immediately adjacent to the city and directly extends it. The area is composed of mostly wealthy, select residential neighbourhoods, and many corporate headquarters are located there. It is the wealthiest and most expensive suburb of Paris.

Musical theatre

In 1997, Legrand composed the score for the musical Le Passe-muraille , with a book by Didier Van Cauwelaert. It premiered on Broadway in 2002 as Amour and was translated into English by Jeremy Sams and was directed by James Lapine. [18] This musical was his Broadway debut [19] and he was nominated for a Tony Award in 2003 for Best Score [20] . Later he recorded Legrand Affair with Melissa Errico [20] , a 100-piece symphony orchestra that included songs with lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman. [21]

The passer-through-walls, translated as The Man Who Walked through Walls, The Walker-through-Walls or The Man who Could Walk through Walls, is a short story published by Marcel Aymé in 1941

Didier Van Cauwelaert French writer

Didier Van Cauwelaert is a French author of Belgian descent who was born in Nice. In 1994 his novel Un Aller simple won the Prix Goncourt.

Broadway theatre class of professional theater presented in New York City, New York, USA

Broadway theatre, also known simply as Broadway, refers to the theatrical performances presented in the 41 professional theatres, each with 500 or more seats located in the Theater District and Lincoln Center along Broadway, in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. Along with London's West End theatre, Broadway theatre is widely considered to represent the highest level of commercial theatre in the English-speaking world.

The world premiere of the new musical Marguerite from Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg, the creators of Les Misérables and Miss Saigon , included music by Michel Legrand and lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer. Marguerite is set during World War II in occupied Paris, and was inspired by the romantic novel La Dame aux Camélias by Alexandre Dumas fils. It premiered in May 2008 at the Haymarket Theatre, London and was directed by Jonathan Kent. [22]



Legrand has won three Oscars (from 13 nominations), five Grammys, and was nominated for an Emmy. His first Academy Award win was in 1969 for the song "The Windmills of Your Mind", followed with the Academy Award for his music for Summer of ’42 in 1972 and for Yentl in 1984. [9]

Following are a selection of the awards and nominations with which Legrand's works have been honored:

Academy Award awards and nominations

Source: AllMovie [23]

Golden Globe awards and nominations

Source: All Movie [23]

Grammy Award awards and nominations

Source: Grammy.com [29]

Theatre nominations

Emmy Award nominations

Fennecus nominations

Apex nominations

Australian Film Institute Award

Prix Moliere Award


Golden Eagle Award


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<i>Amour</i> (musical) musical

Amour is a musical fantasy with an English book by Jeremy Sams, music by Michel Legrand, and lyrics by Didier Van Cauwelaert, who wrote the original French libretto.

The Windmills of Your Mind 1968 single by Noel Harrison

"The Windmills of Your Mind" is a song with music by French composer Michel Legrand and English lyrics written by Americans Alan and Marilyn Bergman. The French lyrics, under the title "Les Moulins de mon cœur", were written by Eddy Marnay. The song was introduced in the film The Thomas Crown Affair (1968), and won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in the same year. In 2004, "Windmills of Your Mind" was ranked 57 in AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs survey of top songs in American cinema. A cover by Sting was used in the 1999 remake of The Thomas Crown Affair.

"What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?" is a song with lyrics written by Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman and original music written by Michel Legrand for the 1969 film The Happy Ending, in which Michael Dees sings it. The song was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song but lost out to "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head".

"I Will Wait for You" is the English version of "Je ne pourrai jamais vivre sans toi", a song from the French musical The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. Its music was composed by Michel Legrand and the original lyrics written by Jacques Demy. It was performed in the film by Catherine Deneuve, whose voice was dubbed by Danielle Licari. The English lyrics of the song were written by Norman Gimbel. This version was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Song at the 38th Academy Awards held in 1966.

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This is a list of albums by Michel Legrand.


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