Michel Legrand, composer of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Yentl and The Thomas Crown Affair, died Saturday at the age of 86.
Legrand’s death was first reported by Agence France-Presse. The songwriter’s publicist also confirmed Legrand’s death to Variety, adding that he died early Saturday at his Paris home with his wife, French actress Macha Meril, by his side. His cause of death has not yet been revealed.
Former and current presidents of the Cannes Film Festival Gilles Jacob and Pierre Lescure expressed their condolences to the Paris-born legend on Twitter. Jacob tweeted in French “notes were soft as caress, his umbrellas made us cry. By leaving us on the sly, Michel Legrand commits his first false note. Music, Maestro, please.” Lescure wrote in French, “Michel Legrand composed huge songs. And some little fantasies, full of his pretty fierce irony.”
Singer Tony Bennett also paid tribute to the late composer tweeting, “Michel Legrand wrote the music for one of my most treasured songs to perform, ‘How Do You Keep The Music Playing?’ His music will last forever and we will keep singing it. He was a wonderful composer and beautiful human being and he will be missed.”
Michel Legrand wrote the music for one of my most treasured songs to perform, “How Do You Keep The Music Playing?” His music will last forever and we will keep singing it. He was a wonderful composer and beautiful human being and
he will be missed.
— Tony Bennett (@itstonybennett) January 26, 2019
Legrand worked across all musical fields including musicals, scoring movies and TV, arranging and recording albums, playing jazz piano and conducting orchestras. The French composer won five Grammys: two for his 1975 jazz record Images, Best Instrumental Grammys for “The Summer Knows,” the theme from 1971’s Summer of ’42 and “Brian’s Song” (1972) as well as a Grammy for arranging a 1972 record alongside Sarah Vaughan.
The award-winning composer also earned 13 Oscar nominations and took home three awards for “The Windmills of Your Mind” from The Thomas Crown Affair, the score for Summer of ’42 and the musical score for Yentl ; Legrand wrote the music for that film’s Barbra Streisand hit “Papa, Can You Hear Me?” He also received three nominations for his most famous work, the 1965 classic The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg.
As a recording artist, Legrand released more than 100 albums alongside his many soundtracks. He was also regarded as a prolific jazz pianist, with his 1959 record Legrand Jazz featuring legends like Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Ben Webster, Bill Evans and Phil Woods. Legrand later recorded jazz albums with Stan Getz, Bud Shank, Oscar Peterson, Stephane Grappelli and Arturo Sandoval.
His last credited work before his death was for the 2018 French film J’ai perdu Albert. Legrand also recently contributed the score to Orson Welles’ posthumously released The Other Side of the Wind.