Tributes have begun pouring in for Michel Legrand, the three-time Oscar-winning composer of “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg,” “Yentl” and “The Young Girls of Rochefort,” who died at his home early Saturday in Paris at the age of 86.
Gilles Jacob, the former president of the Cannes Film Festival, said that Legrand’s “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.”
Pierre Lescure, the current president of the Cannes Film Festival, tweeted: “Michel Legrand composed cult songs. And some little fantasies, full of his pretty fierce irony. I remember this title ‘1964’ where a father tells the Yéyés to his children.”
The French cinematheque cited one of Legrand’s own quotes: “I ended up acquiring the conviction that death is not the end. Life goes on after, in a different way.”
French film promotion organization UniFrance wrote: “Michel Legrand has gone, and the windmills of our minds have ceased turning. Farewell Maestro, and thank you for these 86 years of swing, grace, harmony and beauty. Hope you and Jacques D. will reunite to make those clouds dance above our heads.”
The president of the French National Film Board (CNC), Frederique Bredin, issued a statement paying tribute to Legrand. “He created scores for films as a second dialogue, from Agnes Varda’s ‘Cleo de 5 à 7,’ to Jean-Luc Godard’s ‘A Woman Is a Woman’ and Norman Jewison’s ‘The Thomas Crown Affair,’ Robert Mulligan’s ‘Summer of ’42” or Barbra Streisand’s ‘Yentl,’ for which he received three Oscars.
“Through his work on ‘The Umbrellas of Cherbourg’ and ‘The Young Girls of Rochefort,’ Legrand created the most beautiful scores of French cinema, giving birth, with Jacques Demy, to the musical comedy as a new film genre,” Bredin said.