Michael Legrand was a talented French film composer with a vast portfolio. In addition to being a successful jazz musician, he was awarded three Oscars for his classic film scores. His passion for music was evident, inspiring many in the industry. He passed away peacefully on Saturday at 86-years-old, leaving behind his wife, Catherine. His death was just a few weeks shy of his 87th birthday, according to Pitchfork.
Legrand started his career in the 1950s as a budding jazz musician. His work caught the attention of many high-profile film producers, earning him the opportunity to compose the music for 1964’s The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, a romantic drama directed by Jacques Demy. This acted as a stepping stone, providing him with opportunities to compose for other great works. In total, he composed around 150 film scores, including pieces for 1967’s The Young Girls of Rochefort and 1971’s Summer of ’42.
Music was Legrand’s deepest passion in life from an early age. When he was a child, he dreamed of living a life completely surrounded by music in any form. He got his wish, composing well over 100 albums during his lifetime. He got the chance to collaborate with artists such as Miles Davis, Barbara Streisand, Ben Webster, and John Coltrane. In addition to his three Oscar wins, he also earned five Grammy Awards, including trophies for his 1975 jazz album Images and the themes from Summer of ’42 and Brian’s Song.
R.I.P. Michel Legrand (1932-2019)— Film Society of Lincoln Center (@FilmLinc) January 26, 2019
Pictured on the set of THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG with Jacques Demy. pic.twitter.com/7QKuCgwPKg
Fans and colleagues around the world were saddened to hear of the loss of the great musician whose work touched many lives. Legrand will be fondly remembered for his deep devotion to music and the joy he brought to others through his talent.
Although he is gone from this earth, his music will be shared and enjoyed for many years to come. The musician’s management team issued a statement on Facebook announcing his passing. They spoke of his zest for life and his great influence in the music and film industry.
“This is with great sadness that we have to announce the passing away of our friend and artist Michel Legrand who left us peacefully this Saturday 26th January. He changed the meaning of music in films with his sense of rhythm and his absolute passion for life. Goodbye to our dearest Michel Legrand, thank you for 21 years of friendship, partnership and music. Our thoughts are with his wife and family during this sad time…RIP from City Lights, Philippe, Hervé, Dora and Diana.”