Award winning composer Michel Legrand died January 26 in Paris, France at the age of 86. No official cause of death was given but he was performing on stage only a month ago.
Saying that melody is a mistress to whom he would always be faithful, Legrand spoke on his love of music saying, “ever since I was a boy, my ambition has been to live completely surrounded by music. My dream is not to miss out anything. That’s why I’ve never settled on one musical discipline. I love playing, conducting, singing and writing, and in all styles. So I turn my hand to everything – not just a bit of everything. Quite the opposite. I do all these activities at once, seriously, sincerely and with deep commitment.”
Throughout his long musical career, Legrand has shared the stage with numerous artists including Barbra Streisand, Miles Davis, Frank Sinatra, Aretha Franklin, Sting, Rufus Wainwright, Yves Montand, Quincy Jones, Ray Charles, Andy Williams, Lena Horne, Dionne Warwick, Diana Ross, Neil Diamond, Liza Minelli, Johnny Mathis, Perry Como, Nana Mouskouri, Kiri Te Kanawa, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Oscar Peterson, Alison Moyet, Stephane Grappelli, Phil Woods, George Benson, and Natalie Dessay.
Legrand composed and orchestrated music for the Broadway productions “Amour’, “Andy Williams with Michel Legrand”, “Of Love Remembered”, and “Zizi”.
Legrand has composed music for over 200 films and television productions including “The Guardians”, “Les Miserables”, “Switching Channels”, “Yentl”, “Best Friends”, “Bolero”, “The Other Side of Midnight”, “Gulliver’s Travels”, “The Smurfs and the Magic Flute”, “The Three Musketeers”, “Lady Sings the Blues”, “Brian’s Song”, “Le Mans”, “Summer of ’42”, “Wuthering Heights”, “Ice Station Zebra”, “The Thomas Crown Affair”, “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg”, and his debut in 1955 for the short documentary “Visages de Paris”.
The film “Morning Shine” is in pre-production.
Legrand’s list of soundtrack credits is also an impressive one with his music appearing in 175 of them; including “The Clash”, “Deadpool 2”, “Scandal”, “The Simpsons”, “Glee”, “Nip/Tuck”, “American Masters”, “Entourage”, “Futurama”, “Cheers”, “The Muppet Show”, and numerous variety, award, and reality competition shows.
He even appeared in a few productions offering his voice in “The Price of Fame”, playing himself in “Love Lasts Three Years”, “Echt tu matsch’, “A Time for Loving”, “L’or et le plomb”, an uncredited singer in “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg”, “Cleo from 5 to 7”, and “Son Dernier Noel”.
A prolific composer, his most recognizable songs include “The Windmills of Your Mind”, Summer of ’42”, “What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life?”, “Papa, Can You Hear Me?” and “The Summer Knows”.
Along with a vast catalog of music, Legrand’s accomplishments include three Academy Awards, five Grammy Awards, two BAFTA Awards, A Golden Globe Award, took the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival twice, and is a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Michel Jean Legrand as born February 24, 1932 in Paris into a musical family. He entered the Paris Conservatoire at the age of 10 when he discovered a whole new world with the introduction of music theory.
He is survived by his third wife Macha and children.
Feature photo credit: By John Turner – Flickr: Michel Legrand, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15613788