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Oscar-winning French composer Michel Legrand dies aged 86

Michel Legrand
70th Cannes Film Festival - Opening ceremony and screening of the film "Les fantomes d'Ismael" (Ismael's Ghosts) out of competition - Red Carpet Arrivals - Cannes, France. 17/05/2017. Music composer Michel Legrand poses

Prolific French composer Michel Legrand, who won three Oscars and five Grammys during a career spanning more than half a century, died aged 86 on Saturday, prompting an outpouring of tributes for his "inexhaustible genius".

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.

He 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.

French President Emmanuel Macron paid tribute to the "inexhaustible genius" of Legrand, whose "inimitable tunes" became "the soundtrack of our lives".

"He was one of the greatest French musicians and composers and one of the world's most famous creators of film music," Macron said in a statement, passing on his condolence's to Legrand's family.

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".

French composer and conductor Vladimir Cosma told AFP that "for me, he is immortal, through his music and his personality".

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