Michel Legrand

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Michel Legrand in Haymarket (2008)

Michel Jean Legrand (* 24. February 1932 in Paris ; † 26. January 2019 in Neuilly-sur-Seine ) was a French several times with the Oscar and Grammy excellent composer for film music, pianist , singer and arranger .


Legrand received his first musical impressions from his father Raymond Legrand , who led a variety orchestra to accompany musicians like Édith Piaf and Maurice Chevalier , or who wrote arrangements for Ray Ventura . His mother also came from a family of musicians. Her brother, Jacques Hélian, directed an orchestra. Legrand had Armenian roots. One of his grandfathers sang oum kalsoum and mastered the game of oud . Little Michel's parents divorced when their son was three years old. Legrand completed his studies at the age of 17 at the Conservatoire de Paris , a. a. at Nadia Boulanger , 1952. In that year he already arranged a string album for Dizzy Gillespie . In 1952 he accompanied Maurice Chevalier on a US tour.

Since the late 1950s, he turned increasingly to film music . His soundtracks for Hollywood films established his world fame. One of his most famous works worldwide is the musical film drama The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Les Parapluies de Cherbourg) from 1964, in which Catherine Deneuve had her first appearance.

He was nominated twelve times for the Oscar , which he received three times: for the film song for Thomas Crown is unbelievable - The Windmills of Your Mind (1968) - and for the soundtracks to the films Sommer '42 (1971) and Yentl (1983) ). He was also nominated three times for the César and twelve times for the Golden Globe Award , which he received once for Thomas Crown is unbelievable . In total, he wrote music for about 200 cinema and television films, for example for the film Atlantic City, USA (1980) by director Louis Malle with Burt Lancaster in the leading role. He also composed the music for the French cartoon series Il etait une fois la vie (1987), which is known in Germany under the title Once upon a time ... life . As one of the first musicians in France, he also made the bossa nova his own.

As a jazz pianist he worked a. a. with Django Reinhardt . In 1958 he recorded a jazz album with Donald Byrd , John Coltrane and Ben Webster . An album with jazz singer Sarah Vaughan followed in 1972 . In 1978 he played the album Le Jazz Grand with Gerry Mulligan , Phil Woods Jon Faddis , Ron Carter and Grady Tate . In 1983 he produced another jazz album entitled "After the Rain" with Ron Carter, Grady Tate, Zoot Sims, Phil Woods and others. a. In 1991 the album Dingo was created in collaboration with Miles Davis . In 2004 a tribute album was created for Luiz Eça .

His decades-long collaboration with Barbra Streisand , which he first accompanied in 1966 on her album Je m'appelle Barbra as arranger, orchestra conductor and composer, was also remarkable . Streisand repeatedly recorded songs by Legrand on her following albums. The collaboration culminated in the award-winning soundtrack to Yentl . In 2011 she chose his composition The Windmills of Your Mind as the opening song for the album What Matters Most .

In addition to the Oscars he received, Legrand has received countless other awards. In November 1984, the then Minister of Culture Jack Lang presented him with the Médaille de la Légion d'honneur . He has been nominated for a Grammy 17 times and has received five awards. In 1990 he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame . In 1998 he received the ASCAP Henry Mancini Award . In June 2011 in Germany he received the “Look & Listen - Telepool-BR-Music-Award” for his life's work as a composer of film music.

Legrand also performed as a conductor and pianist with works by classical composers such as B. Eric Satie on. In 2013 Legrand presented his autobiography Rien de grave dans les aigus (Éditions du cherche midi).

Legrand was active until his death in January 2019 at the age of 86. His last score was in 2018 for the French film J'ai Perdu Albert .


Michel Legrand was the younger brother of vocalist Christiane Legrand , a member of the Swingle Singers . Legrand was married three times: from 1958 to 1992 with Christine Bouchard, from 1994 to 2007 with Isabelle Rondon and from 2014 until his death with the actress Macha Méril . He had four children. His daughter Eugénie , married to the rider Cédric Angot , is active as a show jumper and took part in the 2004 Olympic Games. His father's friend and his mother's brother was the conductor Jacques Hélian ; they come from an Armenian-French family.

Most famous songs

Filmography (selection)

Discographic notes

  • 1954 I Love Paris
  • 1959 Legrand Jazz
  • 1963 Michel Legrand Big Band Plays Richard Rodgers
  • 1964 Archi-Cordes
  • 1964 Les Parapluies de Cherbourg [Original Soundtrack]
  • 1967 Les Demoiselles de Rochefort
  • 1968 At Shelly's Manne-Hole
  • 1969 Windmills of Your Mind , with Bud Shank
  • 1972 Sarah Vaughan with Michel Legrand
  • 1983 After the Rain
  • 1992 Legrand Grappelli
  • 1993 Michel Plays Legrand
  • 1995 Michel Legrand Big Band

Web links

Commons : Michel Legrand  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b c Christophe Passer: Michel Legrand, écran noir sur mélodies bleues . In: Le Matin Dimanche . No. 4 . Lausanne January 27, 2019, p. 23 .
  2. «Inexhaustible Genius»: Michel Legrand died at 86 . The world . January 27, 2019.
  3. https://www.allmusic.com/album/sarah-vaughan-with-michel-legrand-bonus-tracks-mw0000271518 .
  4. http://barbra-archives.com/record/albums/je_mappelle_barbra.html .
  5. https://www.discogs.com/search/?q=Michel+Legrand+Barbra+Streisand&type=all .
  6. https://www.discogs.com/Barbra-Streisand-What-Matters-Most/release/11512560 .
  7. https://www.grammy.com/grammys/artists/michel-legrand .
  8. a b https://www.songhall.org/news/view/remembering_michel_legrand .
  9. https://www.ascap.com/news-events/awards/henry-mancini-award .
  10. https://www.br.de/presse/inhalt/pressemitteilungen/pressestelle-pressemitteilung-filmtonart112.html .
  11. A musician for all stages of life in: FAZ from February 20, 2012, page 30.
  12. https://www.mirror.co.uk/3am/celebrity-news/michel-legrand-dead-86-oscar-13909250 .
  13. Triplé français et triomphe pour Eugénie  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , May 30, 2004 (French)@1@ 2Template: Dead Link / www.cavadeos.com  
  14. Jean Bahuaud: Jacques Hélian et son orchester in dutempsdescerisesauxfeuillesmortes.