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Oscar-winning film ‘Windmills of Your Mind’ composer Michel Legrand dies

Prolific French composer Michel Legrand, who won three Oscars and five Grammys during a career spanning more than half a century, died Saturday aged 86.

Legrand’s music spanned a wide range of styles and genres, and he composed for more than 200 film and TV productions and was associated with over 100 albums.

“Since I was a child, my ambition has been to live completely surrounded by music, my dream was to not miss anything, which is why I have never focused on a single musical discipline,” he once said.

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 first won an Academy Award in 1969 for the song “The Windmills of Your Mind” from Norman Jewison’s hit thriller “The Thomas Crown Affair”.

He followed that with Oscars for his music for “Summer of ’42” in 1972 and for “Yentl” in 1984.

Legrand, who had been scheduled to stage concerts in Paris in April, died at his home in the French capital early Saturday with his wife, the actress Macha Meril, at his side, his spokesman told AFP.

The list of stars who performed Legrand’s pieces over the years reads like a who’s who of 20th-century music. It includes jazz musicians such as Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Bill Evans and singers as varied as Frank Sinatra, Kiri Te Kanawa, Barbra Streisand and Nana Mouskouri.

He also won five Grammys from 17 nominations, including one for the theme from “Summer of ’42”.

“For me, he is immortal, through his music and his personality”, French composer and conductor Vladimir Cosma told AFP on hearing of Legrand’s passing.

“He was such an optimistic personality, with a kind of naivety in optimism, he saw everything in rosy colours!”

“Genius composer, his inexhaustible talent, celebrated across the world, gave birth to so much emotion,” tweeted French Culture Minister Franck Riester.

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