Michel Legrand: Oscar-winning composer who worked with Sinatra and Streisand dies aged 86 | Ents & Arts News



Oscar-winning composer Michel Legrand, who worked with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Miles Davis and Barbra Streisand, has died aged 86.

The Frenchman, who won Academy Awards for the much-covered hit The Windmills of Your Mind and for his music for Summer of ’42 and Yentl, died early on Saturday in Paris with his wife, the actress Macha Meril by his side.

He worked with some of the music world’s biggest stars such as Miles Davis, Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, Aretha Franklin, Barbra Streisand, Liza Minnelli and Edith Piaf.

French composer and pianist Michel Legrand arrives at the church of Saint-Pierre du Gros Caillou in Paris on March 14, 2017 to attend the funeral of French journalist Pierre Bouteiller. Pierre Bouteiller died on March 10, 2017 at the age of 82. / AFP PHOTO / ERIC FEFERBERG (Photo credit should read ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)
French composer and pianist Michel Legrand seen in 2017, has died aged 86

He collaborated on movies with the likes of directors Orson Welles, Jean Cocteau, Jean-Luc Godard and Jacques Demy.

The composer also won five Grammys from 17 nominations and wrote more than 200 film and TV scores during a career spanning more than 50 years.

“For me, he is immortal, through his music and his personality. He was such an optimistic personality, with a kind of naivety in optimism, he saw everything in rosy colours!,” French composer and conductor Vladimir Cosma told AFP.

Michel Legrand working with Barbara Streisand on Yentl in 1983
Michel Legrand working with Barbra Streisand on Yentl in 1983

Born into a family of musicians in Paris in 1932, Legrand entered the Paris Conservatory of music aged just 10, something he likened in his 2013 autobiography to crossing “the threshold into a magical world where the only question was music”.

With the emergence of French New Wave cinema in the 1960s, he began working in films with directors such as Agnes Varda, Jean-Luc Godard and Jacques Demy.

Michel Legrand seen with his wife, French actress Macha Meril in 2017
Michel Legrand and his wife, French actress Macha Meril, in 2017

His talent soon became clear and Oscar nominations for his scores for Demy’s The Umbrellas of Cherbourg and The Young Ladies of Rochefort followed.

After moving to Hollywood, he first won an Academy Award in 1969 for the much-covered song The Windmills of Your Mind from the heist caper The Thomas Crown Affair.

Further Oscars followed for his music for the 1972 coming-of-age comedy-drama Summer of ’42 in 1972 and Yentl, the story of a Jewish girl who pretends to be a man to receive an education, in 1984.

The father of three children, he married his third wife, Macha Meril, in 2014.


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