Michel Jean Legrand (born 24 February 1932 in the 20th arrondissement of Paris – died 26 January 2019 in Neuilly-sur-Seine) was a French musical composer, arranger, conductor, and jazz pianist. Legrand was a prolific composer, having written over 200 film and television scores, in addition to many songs. 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).
Legrand was born in Paris. His father, Raymond Legrand, was a conductor and composer. and his mother was Marcelle Ter-Mikaëlian, sister of conductor Jacques Hélian. They married in 1929. He was of Armenian descent.
Legrand composed more than two hundred film and television scores. He won three Oscars and five Grammys. He studied music at the Conservatoire de Paris from age 11, working with, among others, Nadia Boulanger and graduated with top honors as both a composer and a pianist. He established his name in the United States by working with such jazz stars as Miles Davis and Stan Getz. 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.
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.
Michel Legrand died in Paris on 26 January 2019 at the age of 86. He remained active until his death and had concerts scheduled to take place in the spring.
Legrand composed the score for the musical Amour, which premiered in 2002 on Broadway and was translated into English by Jeremy Sams and was directed by James Lapine. This musical was his Broadway debut and he was nominated for a Tony Award in 2003 for Best Score. Later he recorded Legrand Affair with Melissa Errico, a 100-piece symphony orchestra that included songs with lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman.
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.
Legrand has won three Oscars (out of 13 nominations), five Grammys, and has been 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.
Following are a selection of the awards and nominations with which Legrand's works have been honored:
Academy Award awards and nominations:
• Best Original Score, Substantially Original Score: The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1965) - nomination
• Best Original Score for a Motion Picture (not a Musical): The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) - nomination
• Best Original Song Score and Its Adaptation or Best Adaptation Score: The Young Girls of Rochefort (1968) - nomination
• Best Original Dramatic Score: Summer of '42 (1971) (won)
• Best Original Song Score and Its Adaptation or Best Adaptation Score: Yentl (1983) (won)
• Best Original Song:
o "I Will Wait for You" from The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1965) - nomination
o "The Windmills of Your Mind" (won) from The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) - win
o "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?" from The Happy Ending (1969)
o "Pieces of Dreams" from Pieces of Dreams (1970)
o "How Do You Keep the Music Playing?" from Best Friends (1982)
o "Papa, Can You Hear Me?" and "The Way He Makes Me Feel" both from Yentl (1983)
GRAMMY Award awards and nominations:
• Best Instrumental Composition: "Theme From Summer Of '42" (1971) - win
• Best Instrumental Arrangement: "Theme From Summer Of '42" (1971) - nomination
• Best Pop Instrumental Performance: "Theme From Summer Of '42" (1971) - nomination
• Best arrangement accompanying vocalist: What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life? (Sarah Vaughan) (1972) - win
• Song of the year: "The Summer Knows" from Summer of '42 (1972) - nomination
• Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s): "The Summer Knows" (1972) - nomination
• Best instrumental composition: "Brian's Song" (1972) - win
• Album of Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or Television Special: The Three Musketeers (1974) - nomination
• Best Instrumental Composition: "Images" (1975) win
• Best Jazz Performance by a Big Band: "Images" (1975) win
• Best Album of Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or a Television Special: Yentl (1984) - nomination
• Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocals: Yentl (Barbra Streisand) (1984) - nomination
• Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocals: "Nature Boy" (track from "Unforgettable") (1991) - nomination
• Best Instrumental Arrangement: "Where Or When" (Track from: "Happy Radio Days", Erato Records) (1998) - nomination
• 1954 I Love Paris
• 1955 Holiday in Rome
• 1956 Castles in Spain
• 1957 Bonjour Paris
• 1957 C'est magnifique
• 1958 Legrand in Rio
• 1958 The Columbia Album of Cole Porter
• 1959 Paris Jazz Piano
• 1959 The New I Love Paris
• 1959 Legrand Jazz
• 1962 Strings On Fire (Philips Records)
• 1963 Michel Legrand Big Band Plays Richard Rodgers (Philips Records)
• 1964 Archi-Cordes
• 1964 Plays for Dancers (US release of Archi-Cordes)
• 1967 Violent Violins (UK release of Archi-Cordes)
• 1967 Cinema Legrand (MGM Records)
• 1968 At Shelly's Manne-Hole
• 1974 Twenty Songs of the Century
• 1980 Atlantic City
• 1983 After the Rain
• 1993 Michel Plays Legrand
• 1995 Michel Legrand Big Band
• 2002 Michel Legrand by Michel Legrand
• 2013 Entre elle et lui (with Natalie Dessay)
Sources: Last.fm, Wikipedia
Michel Legrand in the news
|Songs by Michel Legrand|