Michel Legrand is a unique talent in the music world. His work has won Oscar and Grammy nominations on numerous occasions and with success. He is a very accomplished jazz pianist and arranger, composer of movie and stage musicals, songwriter, film director, and even singer. It is the jazz side of his music that I most appreciate.
Assembled for a jazz segement on Michel's Monsanto TV special are from left to right:
J.J. Johnson, Pete Condoli, Dave Grusin, Shelley Manne, Stan Getz and Ray Brown.
Raised in a musical family--Michel entered the Paris Conservatory of Music at ten. He studied with the legendary music teacher, Nadia Boulanger, into the early 1950s, but his real turning point came in 1947, when a friend gave him a ticket for a Dizzy Gillespie concert. "My jazz life started that night," he said, and he began buying and studying records by Miles Davis, Stan Kenton, and other American jazz stars.
In 1955, he was hired as a musical director by Maurice Chevalier, who took him on tour to the U.S. Learning of the huge sales of his Columbia LP's, he convinced the label to let him make Legrand Jazz.
His movie career really got underway with the release of his first major movie work, "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg," This film was followed by the upbeat "The Young Girls of Rochefort," with less commercial success.
He linked up with his old friend, Quincy Jones, who introduced him to the songwriting couple, Alan and Marilyn Bergman, and together they picked up a Oscar a year later with "The Windmill of Your Mind," quickly followed by "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life," from "The Happy Ending,", the themes from "Brian's Song," and the seductive TV movie "The Summer of '42."
Michel eventually moved back to France, but he continued to work on both U.S. and French films. He won the Oscar for Best Original Score in 1983 for Barbra Streisand's musical, "Yentl," and won the French equivalent of the Tony for best musical for "Le Passe Muraille," based on the classic Marcel Ayme novel.
Awards and Nominations
Gene Kelly as Andy Miller and Catherine Deneuve as Delphine from The Young Girls Of Rochefort.
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Les Parapluies De Cherbourg)
Nominated for Academy Awards in three categories in 1965: Best Score, Best Scoring, Best Song (I Will Wait For You).
The Thomas Crown Affair
Academy Award Winner for Best Song in 1968 (The Windmills Of Your Mind); also nominated for Best Score.
The Young Girls of Rochefort (Les Demoiselles De Rochefort)
nominated for an Academy Award in 1968: Best Scoring.
The Happy Ending
nominated for an Academy Award in 1969: Best Song (What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life?). Grammy Award Winner for Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist (Sarah Vaughn) in 1972.
Pieces of Dreams
Nominated for an Academy Award in 1970: Best Song (Pieces Of Dreams)
Summer of '42
Academy Award Winner for Best Original Score in 1971.
"The Summer Knows"
Grammy Award Winner for Song of the Year (The Summer Knows) in 1972.
Brian's Song (TV)
Grammy Award Winner for Best Instrumental Composition; nominated for Emmy Award for Best Original Score (For Television) in 1972.
The Three Musketeers
Nominated for a Grammy Award in 1974: Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or Television Special.
Grammy Award Winner in two categories in 1975: Best Instrumental Composition and Best Jazz Performance By A Big Band.
Nominated for an Academy Award in 1982: Best Song (How Do You Keep The Music Playing?)
Academy Award Winner for Best Original Song Score in 1983; also nominated for three other Academy Awards: Best Original Score; and two for Best Song (The Way He Makes Me Feel, Papa Can You Hear Me?). Also nominated for two Grammy Awards: Best Original Score Album and Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocals.
Australian Film Institute Award Winner for Best Music Score.
Le Passe-Muraille - Prix Moliere (France) Award Winner for Best Musical.