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)
Occupation(s)Film score composer
Jazz pianist
Years active1946–2019
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 two of 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] and additional Oscars for Summer of '42 (1971) and Barbra Streisand's Yentl (1983).


Life and career

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

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 (album) 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 dream pop band Beach House. [11]

Legrand composed music for Jacques Demy's films The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) and The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967), and appeared and performed in Agnès Varda's Cléo from 5 to 7 (1961). He also composed music for Joseph Losey's Eva (1962), The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) (which features "The Windmills of Your Mind"), Ice Station Zebra (1968), The Picasso Summer (1969), The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun (1970), The Go-Between (1971), Summer of '42 (1971), Clint Eastwood's Breezy (1973), The Three Musketeers (1973), 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]

Legrand died of sepsis, [13] [14] during the night of 25–26 January 2019, at the American Hospital of Paris in Neuilly-sur-Seine, 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]

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 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



"Michel Legrand, let the music play", directed by Gregory Monro in 2018

Related Research Articles

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

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is a 1964 musical romantic drama film written and directed by Jacques Demy, with music and lyrics by Michel Legrand. Catherine Deneuve and Nino Castelnuovo star as two young lovers in the French city of Cherbourg, separated by circumstance. The film's dialogue is entirely sung as recitative, including casual conversation, and is sung-through, or through-composed, like some operas and stage musicals. It has been seen as the middle part of an informal "romantic trilogy" of Demy films that share some of the same actors, characters, and overall look, coming after Lola (1961) and before The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967). The French-language film was a co-production between France and West Germany.

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Norman Gimbel was an American lyricist of popular songs and themes to television shows and films. He wrote the lyrics for songs including "Killing Me Softly with His Song", "Ready to Take a Chance Again" and "Canadian Sunset". He also wrote English-language lyrics for many international hits, including "Sway", "Summer Samba", "The Girl from Ipanema", "How Insensitive", "Drinking-Water", "Meditation", "I Will Wait for You" and "Watch What Happens". Of the movie themes he co-wrote, five were nominated for Academy Awards and/or Golden Globe Awards, including "It Goes Like It Goes", from the film Norma Rae, which won the Academy Award for Best Original Song for 1979. Gimbel was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1984.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Papa, Can You Hear Me?</span> 1984 single by Barbra Streisand

"Papa, Can You Hear Me?" is a 1983 song composed by Michel Legrand with lyrics by Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman, for Barbra Streisand in the title role of Yentl. The song was nominated for Best Original Song at the 56th Academy Awards; Streisand's longtime friend Donna Summer performed it during the ceremonies. The song peaked at No.26 at Billboard's Adult Contemporary.

<i>Amour</i> (musical) 1997 musical by Michel Legrand & Didier Van Cauwelaert

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

"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. The song was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song but lost out to "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head".

<i>Yentl</i> (film) 1983 romantic musical drama film directed by Barbra Streisand

Yentl is a 1983 American romantic musical drama film directed, co-written, co-produced by, and starring American entertainer Barbra Streisand. It is based on Isaac Bashevis Singer's short story "Yentl the Yeshiva Boy".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">The Way He Makes Me Feel</span> 1983 single by Barbra Streisand

"The Way He Makes Me Feel" is a popular song from 1983 performed by Barbra Streisand. The song is featured in the film adaptation of the play Yentl, in which Streisand starred and sang most of the music. The lyrics were written by Alan and Marilyn Bergman, with music by Michel Legrand.

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<i>How Do You Keep the Music Playing?</i> (Johnny Mathis album) 1993 studio album by Johnny Mathis

How Do You Keep the Music Playing? is an album by American pop singer Johnny Mathis that was released on May 4, 1993, by Columbia Records and included the subtitle The Songs of Michel Legrand and Alan & Marilyn Bergman on its cover. The album featured new, individual recordings of two songs that Mathis covered as a medley for his 1973 album Me and Mrs. Jones -- "I Was Born in Love with You" and "Summer Me, Winter Me". He also performed new arrangements of "The Windmills of Your Mind", "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?", and "The Summer Knows", which he had recorded for other albums many years earlier.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Alan and Marilyn Bergman</span> American lyricists and songwriters

Alan Bergman and Marilyn Keith Bergman were an American songwriting duo. Married from 1958 until Marilyn's death, together they wrote music and lyrics for numerous celebrated television, film, and stage productions. The Bergmans enjoyed a successful career, honored with four Emmys, three Oscars, two Grammys, and were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

This is a list of albums by Michel Legrand.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Songbird Sings Legrand</span> 2003 concert by Michel Legrand and Regine Velasquez

Songbird Sings Legrand was a co-headlining concert by French composer Michel Legrand and Filipina singer Regine Velasquez. The concert was announced in December 2002 and held on three consecutive nights in February 2003 at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) Plenary Hall in Pasay. Velasquez performed songs selected from Legrand's discography, backed by the San Miguel Philharmonic Orchestra. The show was divided into two segments; the first which only featured overtures conducted by Legrand, being followed by an intermission, before Velasquez joined the composer in the second segment.


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