Born in 1932, into a family with a musical tradition, Michel Legrand entered the Paris Conservatory at the age of ten. There he obtained his prizes for harmony, piano, fugue and counterpoint. Then he began a career as an arranger, accompanist and musical director, among others, for Maurice Chevalier, which allowed him to make his debut in the United States, where his album I Love Paris rose to the top of the charts in 1954.
At the same time, he frequents the world of jazz, collaborating with Dizzy Gillepsie, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Bill Evans… He also embarks on the composition of songs for the artists he accompanies, La Valse des Lilas constituting his first great success. .
In 1955, he wrote his first film score: Les amants du Tage by Henri Verneuil. He composes for Agnès Varda, Jean-Luc Godard and, above all, Jacques Demy. Together, they invented a new genre of musical film: the Umbrellas of Cherbourg followed Les Demoiselles de Rochefort (1967) and Peau d'âne (1970).
In 1968, Michel Legrand moved to Los Angeles. In 1960, he won the Oscar for best original song for The Windmills of Your Mind for the film The Thomas Crown Affair by Norman Jewison. This was followed by the Oscar for Best Soundtrack for Summer 42 by Robert Mulligan (1971) and that of Best Musical Adaptation for Yentl by Barbra Streisand (1983).
However, Michel Legrand does not abandon his other activities, in particular as a guide, with, among others, Charles Aznavour, Jessy Norman, Claude Nougaro ...
In 1996, Michel Legrand offered his first musical for the stage: Le Passe-Muraille, which in 1997 won the Molière for best musical performance. In 2014, the Opéra de Nice hosted its first opera Dreyfus, in collaboration with Didier Van Cauwelaert for the libretto.
In 2017, the albums “Piano Concerto, Cello Concerto” and Between Yesterday and Tomorrow, an oratorio written by Alan and Marylin Bergman, sung by Natalie Dessay, were released. The world premiere takes place in March 2018 at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées.
In 2018, Michel Legrand's autobiography “I regret to say yes to you” was released by Fayard.
Michel Legrand dies on January 26, 2019 in Paris.