Oscar-winning French composer Michel Legrand dies at 86

Regis Dubignaud, REUTERS | Michel Legrand pictured on the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival on May 17, 2017.

The acclaimed French composer Michel Legrand, who won three Oscars and five Grammys during a career spanning more than half a century, has died in Paris aged 86, his spokesperson said Saturday.


Legrand first won an Academy Award in 1969 for the song "The Windmills of Your Mind" from the film "The Thomas Crown Affair".

He would go on to win two more, for "Summer of '42" (1972) and "Yentl" (1984), along with five Grammys.

A jazz lover, he wrote more than 200 film and TV scores in a glittering career that saw him collaborate with the likes of Orson Welles, Jean Cocteau, Frank Sinatra and Edith Piaf.

He is best remembered at home for working with French filmmaker Jacques Demy on the musicals "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg" (1964), "The Young Girls of Rochefort" (1967) and "Donkey Skin" (1970).

Legrand was born in Paris on February 24, 1932, in a family of musicians. He was just 10 when he entered the Paris Conservatory of music.

"For me, who hated life, when I first came to the Conservatory I crossed the threshold into a magical world where the only question was music," he said.

He began composing film music in the 1960s with the emergence of French New Wave directors such as Demy, Agnès Varda and Jean-Luc Godard, scoring a first hit in 1962 with the music for Varda’s “Cléo from 5 to 7”.

He moved to the United States in the late 1960s and soon made a name for himself in Hollywood.

Legrand had been planning to give concerts in Paris in the spring, his spokesperson said.

"For me, he is immortal, through his music and his personality," fellow French composer and conductor Vladimir Cosma told AFP on hearing of Legrand's passing.

"He was such an optimistic personality, with a kind of naivety in optimism, he saw everything in rosy colours!" Cosma added.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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