French Composer, Jazz Musician & Conductor, Michel Legrand, Passes
Michel Legrand. Georges Biard [CC BY-SA 3.0]

French Composer, Jazz Musician & Conductor, Michel Legrand, Passes

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PARIS (CelebrityAccess) – French composer, singer, arranger, conductor, jazz musician and producer Michel Legrand has passed away at the age of 86.

The three-time Oscar winner and five-time Grammy winner who was best known for composing such musical scores as “The Windmills of Your Mind,” “I Will Wait for You,” “You Must Believe in Spring,” “What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?,” and the groundbreaking “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg,” died at his home early Saturday in Paris, with wife, French actress Macha Meril, by his side.

Born in 1932, Legrand was the son of popular French bandleader Raymond Legrand. A child prodigy, he entered the Paris Conservatory at the age of 11, and studied with the legendary Nadia Boulanger. He later served as an arranger and conductor for top French stars Maurice Chevalier and Edith Piaf.

Having worked on some 250-odd film soundtracks throughout the course of his career, Legrand’s songs have been recorded by everyone from Barbra Streisand, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Peggy Lee, Ray Charles, Jack Jones and Lena Horne to Michael Jackson, Johnny Mathis, Ella Fitzgerald, Liza Minnelli, Sting, Neil Diamond and opera stars Jessye Norman and Kiri Te Kanawa.

Legrand himself was also a prolific recording artist, releasing more than 100 albums. His 1950s albums I Love Paris, Holiday in Rome and Castles in Spain were all top-10 hits in the U.S.

Additionally, he was a brilliant jazz pianist. His 1959 album Legrand Jazz featured such greats as Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, Ben Webster and Phil Woods, while his later jazz albums featured the likes of Stan Getz, Stephane Grappelli, Bud Shank, Oscar Peterson, Arturo Sandoval and others.

During the ’70s and ’80s, Legrand scored dozens of TV movies and miniseries including “The Adventures of Don Quixote,” “Cage Without a Key,” “The Jesse Owens Story,” “Crossings” and the Richard Chamberlain version of “Casanova,” while more recently he spent his time writing concertos for piano, cello, harp and violin. Legrand also conducted major orchestras including the Pittsburgh Symphony, National Symphony of Washington, D.C., Boston Pops, Minnesota Orchestra and others.

He is survived by his third wife, Meril, whom he married in 2014; and four children.

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