MICHEL LEGRAND: A MEMOIR
Michel Legrand with Stéphane Lerouge
Foreword by Damien Chazelle
(Fayard, 350 pages, 2018)
Michel Legrand has composed the scores for 160 films, winning Oscars and Grammys along the way. Many of his songs have become standards covered by artists as diverse as Tony Bennett, Sarah Vaughan, and Sting. The prolific and highly versatile composer has worked with seemingly every legendary figure in popular music and film since the end of the Second World War, from Maurice Chevalier to Barbra Streisand, to Orson Welles, and to Jean-Luc Godard. Now at the age of eighty-six, he candidly evokes some of the most significant and memorable episodes of his remarkable life.
“The dazzling portrait of a life devoted to music.”
Michel Legrand: A memoir is conceived like a promenade in which past and present loosely intermingle without adhering to a strict chronology. As one memory leans into another, we discover the many facets of a life passionately devoted to music. Legrand shares aspects of his personal life but never strays too far away from the account of his many creative ventures. At every turn, he introduces the numerous artists—jazz musicians, singers and lyricists, film directors and music composers—whose paths have crossed his own on both sides of the Atlantic. More than simply offering an impressive portrait gallery of legendary figures, Legrand also reflects critically on a career that could have gone in many directions. Trained as a pianist, he was destined to pursue a classical music career until the jazz bug bit him in 1948, when he heard the great Dizzy Gillespie live in concert in Paris.
Legrand vividly recalls his most successful collaborations, composing masterpieces for films such as The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, The Thomas Crown Affair, Summer of ’42, and Yentl. He also speaks of rejections, fiascos, and missed opportunities, but in each case, he sheds light on the complex negotiations and compromises that take place between a composer and a director. Michel Legrand: A Memoir will be of interest to all Legrand fans, as well as to music lovers and historians, who will gain firsthand insight into the making of a music icon.
Michel Legrand has gained worldwide fame as a musical composer, arranger, and conductor. He is also a virtuoso classical and jazz pianist. He found early success with his 1954 best-selling theme album, I Love Paris, and scored films for French New Wave directors, including Jacques Demy’s celebrated film musical, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964). Legrand won his first Oscar for the song “The Windmills of Your Mind,” from The Thomas Crown Affair (1968). Most recently, Legrand composed the score for Orson Welles’ posthumously released movie, The Other Side of the Wind (2018).