Michel Legrand

Michel Legrand
Michel Legrand

Michel Legrand (left)
Born Michel Jean Legrand
24 February 1932 (1932-02-24) (age 79)
Paris, France
Occupation Film score composer
Jazz pianist
Years active 1955–present

Michel Jean Legrand (born 24 February 1932, in Bécon-les-Bruyères in the Paris suburbs) is a French musical composer, arranger, conductor, and pianist. His father Raymond Legrand was a conductor and composer renowned for hits such as Irma la douce and his mother, Marcelle Der Mikaëlian (sister of conductor Jacques Hélian), who married Legrand Senior in 1929, was descended from the Armenian bourgeoisie.[1]

Legrand is probably best known for his often haunting film music and scores, such as The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) and The Thomas Crown Affair (1968), which features the song "The Windmills of Your Mind."



Legrand has composed more than two hundred film and television scores and several musicals and has made well over a hundred albums. He has won three Oscars (out of 13 nominations) and five Grammys and has been nominated for an Emmy. He was twenty-two when his first album, I Love Paris, became one of the best-selling instrumental albums ever released. He is a virtuoso jazz and classical pianist and an accomplished arranger and conductor who performs with orchestras all over the world.

He studied music at the Paris Conservatoire from 1943-50 (ages 11–18), working with, among others, Nadia Boulanger, who also taught many other composers, including Aaron Copland and Philip Glass, and Ástor Piazzolla. Legrand graduated with top honors as both a composer and a pianist.[1]

Jazz recordings

While on a visit to the U.S. in 1958, Legrand collaborated with such musicians as Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, Phil Woods, Ben Webster, Hank Jones, and Art Farmer in an album of inventive orchestrations of jazz standards titled Legrand Jazz. The following year, back in Paris with bassist Guy Pedersen and percussionist Gus Wallez, he recorded an album of Paris-themed songs arranged for jazz piano trio, titled Paris Jazz Piano. Nearly a decade later he recorded At Shelly's Manne-Hole (1968), an exciting live trio session with bassist Ray Brown and drummer Shelly Manne, in which four of the compositions were improvised on the spot. Legrand also provided an odd scat vocal on "My Funny Valentine." Legrand returned to his role as jazz arranger for the Stan Getz album Communications '72 and resumed his collaboration with Phil Woods on Jazz Le Grand (1979) and After the Rain (1982); then, he collaborated with violinist Stephane Grappelli on an album in 1992. Not as well received as his earlier work in the field of jazz was a 1994 album for LaserLight titled Michel Plays Legrand. More recently, in 2002, he recorded a masterful solo jazz piano album reworking fourteen of his classic songs, Michel Legrand by Michel Legrand. His jazz piano style is virtuosic and eclectic, drawing upon such influences as Art Tatum, Erroll Garner, Oscar Peterson, and Bill Evans.

A number of his songs, including "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?," "Watch What Happens," "The Summer Knows," and "You Must Believe in Spring," have become jazz standards covered frequently by other artists.


During various periods of creative work, Legrand became a conductor for orchestras in St. Petersburg, Vancouver, Montreal, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, and Denver. He recorded more than one hundred albums with international musical stars (spanning the genres of jazz, variety, and classical) and worked with such diverse musicians as Phil Woods, Ray Charles, Claude Nougaro, Perry Como, Neil Diamond, Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, Lena Horne, James Ingram, Jack Jones, Kiri te Kanawa, Tamara Gverdciteli, Frankie Laine, Tereza Kesovija, Johnny Mathis, Jessye Norman, Diana Ross, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Sarah Vaughan, Shirley Bassey, Regine Velasquez, and Natalie Dessay.

Legrand has also recorded classical piano pieces by Erik Satie and American composers such as Amy Beach, George Gershwin, Aaron Copland, John Cage, and Conlon Nancarrow.

His sister, Christiane Legrand, was a member of the Swingle Singers, and his niece Victoria Legrand is a member of the indie rock duo Beach House.[2]

Film scores

Legrand is known principally as a composer of innovative music for films, composing film scores (about two hundred to date) for directors Jean-Luc Godard, Richard Brooks, Claude Lelouch, Clint Eastwood, Robert Altman, Joseph Losey, and many others. Legrand himself appears and performs in Agnès Varda's French New Wave classic, Cleo from 5 to 7 (1961). After his songs appeared in Jacques Demy's films The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) and The Young Girls of Rochefort (1966), Legrand became famous worldwide. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg was a sung-through musical in which all the dialogue was set to music, a revolutionary concept at the time.

Hollywood soon became interested in Legrand after The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, bombarding him with requests to compose music for films. Having begun to collaborate with Hollywood, Legrand continued to work there for many years. Among his best-known scores are those for The Thomas Crown Affair (1968), which features the hit song "The Windmills of Your Mind", and Summer of '42 (1971), which features another hit song, "The Summer Knows." Legrand also wrote the score for Orson Welles's last-completed film, F for Fake (1974).

Music charts

Legrand's instrumental version of the theme from Brian's Song charted for eight weeks in 1972, peaking at #56.[3]

Currently, Legrand divides his time between America and France.

Selected discography

  • 1954 I Love Paris
  • 1955 Holiday in Rome
  • 1956 Castles in Spain
  • 1957 Bonjour Paris
  • 1957 C'est magnifique
  • 1958 Legrand in Rio
  • 1958 The Columbia Album of Cole Porter
  • 1959 Paris Jazz Piano
  • 1959 The New I Love Paris
  • 1959 Legrand Jazz
  • 1967 Plays for Dancers
  • 1968 At Shelly's Manne-Hole
  • 1982 After the Rain
  • 1995 Michel Legrand Big Band


  • Beau fixe (short) (1953)
  • Lovers Net (Les amants du Tage) (1954)
  • Charmants garçons (1958)
  • Le Triporteur (1958)
  • L'Amérique insolite (1958)
  • L'Americain se détend (1958)
  • Lola (1960)
  • Terrain vague (co-composer) (1960)
  • A Woman Is a Woman (Une femme est une femme) (1960)
  • The French Game (Le cœur battant) (1960)
  • Les Portes claquent (1960)
  • Cléo from 5 to 7 (Cléo de 5 à 7) (1961)
  • The 7 Capital Sins (Les Sept péchés capitaux) (co-composer) (1961)
  • The Winner (Un cœur gros comme ça) (1961)
  • Retour a New York (1962)
  • Comme un poisson dans l'eau (1962)
  • Eva (1962)
  • Une grosse tete (1962)
  • My Life to Live (Vivre sa Vie: Film en Douze Tableaux) (1962)
  • Bay of Angels (La baie des anges) (1962)
  • L'Amerique lunaire (1962)
  • Histoire d'un petit garcon devenu grand (1962)
  • Le joli mai (1962)
  • Illuminations (1963)
  • Le grand escroc (1963)
  • L'Empire de la nuit (1963)
  • Love Is A Ball (1963)
  • The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Les Parapluies de Cherbourg) (1964)
  • A Ravishing Idiot (Une ravissante idiote) (1964)
  • Band of Outsiders (Bande à part) (1964)
  • Fascinante amazonie (1964)
  • Les amoureux du France (1964)
  • La Douceur du village (1964)
  • A Matter of Resistance (La vie de château) (1965)
  • Quand passent les faisans (1965)
  • Tender Scoundrel (Tendre voyou) (1965)
  • Monnaie de singe (1965)
  • The Young Girls of Rochefort (Les Demoiselles de Rochefort) (1966)
  • Who Are You, Polly Magoo? (Qui êtes-vous, Polly Maggoo?) (1966)
  • The Plastic Dome of Norma Jean (1966)
  • L'an 2000 (1966)
  • Gold and Lead (L'or et le plomb) (1966)
  • A Matter of Innocence (also known as Pretty Polly) (1967)
  • L'homme à la Buick (1967)
  • How to Save a Marriage — And Ruin Your Life (1967)
  • Sweet November (1968)
  • The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)
  • The Swimming Pool (La piscine) (1968)
  • Play Dirty (1968)
  • The Appointment (rejected) (1968)
  • Ice Station Zebra (1968)
  • Michel's Mixed Up Musical Bird (1968)
  • Castle Keep (1969)
  • The Happy Ending (1969)
  • Picasso Summer (1969)
  • Pieces of Dreams (1969)
  • The Go-Between (1970)
  • The Magic Garden of Stanley Sweetheart (1970)
  • Wuthering Heights (1970)
  • The Swashbuckler (Les mariés de l'an II) (1970)
  • Donkey Skin (Peau d'Âne) (1970)
  • The Lady in the Car With Glasses And a Gun (La dame dans l'auto avec des lunettes et un fusil) (1970)
  • Un peu de soleil dans l'eau froide (1970)
  • Le Mans (1970)
  • Summer of '42 (1971)
  • La vieille Fille (1971)
  • A Time for Loving (Also: Paris Was Made For Lovers) (1971)
  • Lady Sings the Blues (1972)
  • Portnoy's Complaint (1972)
  • Les feux de la Chandeleur (1972)
  • The Impossible Object (1972)
  • One Is a Lonely Number (1972)
  • A Doll's House (1973)
  • The Nelson Affair (Also: A Bequest to the Nation) (1973)
  • The Outside Man (Un homme est mort) (1973)
  • The Hostages (Le gang des otages) (1973)
  • Forty Carats (1973)
  • Cops and Robbers (1973)
  • Breezy (1973)
  • The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing (rejected) (1973)
  • The Three Musketeers (1973)
  • Our Time (1974)
  • The Four Musketeers (1974)
  • The Most Important Event Since Man Walked on the Moon (L'Evenement le plus important depuis que l'homme marche sur la lune) (1974)
  • F for Fake (1974)
  • The Savage (Le sauvage) (1975)
  • Gulliver's Travels (1975)
  • Sheila Levine is Dead — and Living in New York (1975)
  • Gable and Lombard (1976)
  • Ode to Billy Joe (1976)
  • Le voyage de noces (1976)
  • The Smurfs and the Magic Flute (La flute a six schtroumpfs) (1976)
  • The Other Side of Midnight (1977)
  • Routes to the South (Les routes du sud) (1978)
  • Mon premier amour (1978)
  • Lady Oscar (1978)
  • The Phoenix (1978)
  • The Fabulous Adventures of Baron Munchhausen (1979)
  • Atlantic City (1980)
  • The Hunter (1980)
  • The Mountain Men (1980)
  • Les Uns et les Autres (also known as Bolero) (1980)
  • Hinotori (co-composer) (1980)
  • Falling in Love Again (1981)
  • What Makes David Run? (Qu'est-ce qui fait courir David?) (1981)
  • La cadeau (1981)
  • Chu Chu and the Philly Flash (1981)
  • Your Ticket Is No Longer Valid (1982)
  • Slapstick of Another Kind (1982) (1982 cut)
  • La revanche des humanoides (1982)
  • Best Friends (1982)
  • The Gift (1982)
  • Yentl (1983)
  • Never Say Never Again (1983)
  • A Love in Germany (Un amour en Allemagne) (1983)
  • Secret Places (1984)
  • Micki and Maude (1984)
  • Love Songs (Paroles et musique) (1984)
  • Palace (1985)
  • Partir, revenir (1985)
  • Train to Hell (Train d'enfer) (1985)
  • Parking (1985)
  • Crossings (1986)
  • Sins (1986)
  • Casanova (1987)
  • Social Club (Club de recontres) (1987)
  • Spirale (1987)
  • Switching Channels (1988)
  • Three Seats For the 26th (Trois places pour le 26) (1988)
  • Five Days in June (Cinq jours en juin) (1989)
  • Escape from Paradise (Fuga dal Paradiso) (1990)
  • Predator 2 (1990)
  • Dingo with Miles Davis (1991)
  • Gaspard et Robinson (1991)
  • Pure Luck (1991)
  • The Burning Shore (1991)
  • The Pickle (1993)
  • Ready to Wear (Prêt-à-Porter) (1994)
  • Angels in the Outfield (1994)
  • Operation Dumbo Drop (1995)
  • Les enfants de lumiere (1995)
  • Gone Fishin' (1997)
  • Aaron's Magic Village (1997)


Musical theatre

Michel Legrand composed the score for the Broadway musical AMOUR, which was translated into English by Jeremy Sams and was directed by James Lapine. This musical was his Broadway debut, and while it did not run long, it garnered a loyal fan base due to its much-praised cast album on Ghostlight Records, and subsequent multiple Tony Award nominations (2003), including Best Score for Michel Legrand and Best Actress for its acclaimed leading actress Melissa Errico. Michel continued his collaboration with Melissa to the present day, appearing at such jazz venues as Dizzy's at Lincoln Center. Though he has rarely done this for any solo artist, Michel Legrand arranged, conducted and accompanied Melissa with a 100-piece symphony on an upcoming cd (slated for 18 October release on Ghostlight Records) featuring his Oscar-winning songs, hidden French gems, as well as one new song with lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman. The cd was produced by the legendary Phil Ramone and is featured in Ramone's biography "Making Records."

The world premiere of the new musical Marguerite from Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg, the creators of Les Misérables and Miss Saigon, includes music by Michel Legrand and lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer.

Marguerite is set during World War II in occupied Paris, and was inspired by the romantic novel La Dame aux camélias by Alexandre Dumas, fils. It premiered in May 2008 at the Haymarket Theatre, London and was directed by Jonathan Kent.[4][5]


Legrand has won three Oscars (out of 13 nominations), five Grammys, and has been nominated for an Emmy. The following are some of the awards and nominations with which Legrand's works have been honored:

Academy Award Nominations

Golden Globe Nominations

  • Original Score:
    • The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)
    • The Happy Ending (1969)
    • Wuthering Heights (1970)
    • Le Mans (1971)
    • Summer of '42 (1971)
    • Lady Sings the Blues (1972)
    • Breezy (1973)
    • Yentl (1983)
  • Original Song:
    • "The Windmills of Your Mind" from The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) (won)
    • "What are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?" from The Happy Ending (1969)
    • "Pieces of Dreams" from Pieces of Dreams (1970)
    • "Breezy's Song" from Breezy (1973)
    • "Yesterday's Dreams" from Falling in love again (1980)
    • "The Way He Makes Me Feel" from Yentl (1983)

Grammy Award Nominations

  • Best arrangement accompanying vocalist: Happy Ending (Sarah Vaughn) (1972)
  • Song of the year: "The Summer Knows" from Summer of '42 (1972)
  • Best instrumental composition: "Brian's Song" [TV] (1972)
  • Best original score written for a motion picture or television special: The Three Musketeers (1974)
  • Best instrumental composition: "Images" (1982)
  • Best jazz performance by a Big Band: "Images" (1982)
  • Best original score album: Yentl (1983)
  • Best instrumental arrangement accompanying vocals: Yentl (Barbra Streisand) (1983)

Theatre Nominations

Emmy Award Nominations

  • Outstanding Achievement in Music Composition for a Limited Series or a Special (Dramatic Underscore): "A Woman Called Golda" [TV] (1982)

Fennecus Nominations

  • Song score, original or adaptation: Yentl (1983)
  • Original song: "The Way He Makes Me Feel" from Yentl (1983)

Apex Nominations

  • Original score, comedy: Best Friends (1982)
  • Original song, drama: "The Way He Makes Me Feel" from Yentl (1983)
  • Original song score/adaptation/compilation, drama: Yentl (1983)

Australian Film Institute Award nominations

  • Best Original Music Score: Dingo (1991)

Prix Moliere Award (France)

  • Best musical: Le Passe-Muraille

ASCAP (The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers)

  • Henry Mancini Award for Le Passe-Muraille

Golden Eagle Award

  • Outstanding contribution to world cinema (2002)


  1. ^ a b Biography of Michel Legrand Radio France Internationale, retrieved December 26, 2009
  2. ^ Paste Magazine :: Feature :: Band of the Week: Beach House
  3. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2000). Top Pop Singles 1955-1999. Record Research (Menomonee Falls, WI). p.371. ISBN 0-89820-193-X
  4. ^ "New Musical From ‘Les Miz’ Team", The New York Times, 10 July 2007
  5. ^ "People Thought We Were Mad", The Guardian (London), 10 July 2007

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Michel Legrand — (links) Michel Legrand (* 24. Februar 1932 in Paris) ist ein französischer Komponist, Pianist, Sänger und Arrangeur, armenischer Herkunft. Inhaltsverzeichnis …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Michel Legrand — es un compositor y cantante francés, nacido en París el 24 de febrero de 1932. Desde los 10 a los 21 años estudió en el Conservatorio de Música de París y luego estudió siete años con Nadia Boulanger. Sus inclinaciones musicales lo llevaron… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Michel Legrand — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Legrand. Michel Legrand …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Michel Legrand — Michel Jean Legrand (*París, 24 de febrero de 1932) es un compositor y cantante francés, compuso la música de más de 200 películas y fue tres veces ganador del Oscar de l …   Wikipedia Español

  • Sarah Vaughan with Michel Legrand — Studio album by Sarah Vaughan Released 1972 Recorded April 17 …   Wikipedia

  • Legrand Jazz — Album par Michel Legrand Sortie 1959 Enregistrement 25, 27 et 30 juin 1958 à New York City Durée 44:10 Genre Jazz Label P …   Wikipédia en Français

  • LeGrand — ist der Nachname von Antoine Legrand (1629 1699), Mönch, Missionar, Philosoph und Theologe Baptiste Alexis Victor Legrand, französischer Politiker, 1791 1848 Caroline Legrand, französische Sängerin François Legrand (* 1970), französischer… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Legrand (homonymie) — Legrand  Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différentes personnes partageant un même patronyme.  Cet article concerne le patronyme Legrand, en un mot, ou Le Grand, en deux mots. Pour les personnages historiques appelés « le… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Legrand — ist der Familienname folgender Personen: Antoine Legrand (1629–1699), Mönch, Missionar, Philosoph und Theologe Baptiste Alexis Victor Legrand (1791–1848), französischer Ingenieur, Caroline Legrand (* 1970), französische Sängerin Christiane… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Legrand — is a surname which may refer to: * Michel Legrand, French musical composer * Connie LeGrand, motorsports journalist * Coco Legrand, Chilean comedian * Louis Legrand (1863 1951), French artist * Louis Legrand (theologian) * Marcel Legrand, SVP of… …   Wikipedia