Michel Legrand is a French musical composer, arranger, conductor, and jazz pianist. Legrand is a prolific composer, having written over 200 film and television scores, in addition to many memorable songs.
He has won three Oscars (out of 13 nominations) and five Grammys and has been nominated for an Emmy. He was 22 when his first album, I Love Paris, became one of the best-selling instrumental albums ever released. He is a virtuoso jazz and classical pianist and an accomplished arranger and conductor who performs with orchestras all over the world.
He studied music at the Paris Conservatoire from 1943-50 (ages 11–18), working with, among others, Nadia Boulanger, who also taught many other composers, including Aaron Copland and Philip Glass, and Ástor Piazzolla. Legrand graduated with top honors as both a composer and a pianist.
Legrand is known principally as a composer of innovative music for films, composing film scores (about two hundred to date) for directors Jean-Luc Godard, Richard Brooks, Claude Lelouch, Clint Eastwood, Barbra Streisand, Robert Altman, Joseph Losey, and many others. Legrand himself appears and performs in Agnès Varda's French New Wave classic, Cleo from 5 to 7 (1961). After his songs appeared in Jacques Demy's films The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) and The Young Girls of Rochefort (1966), Legrand became famous worldwide. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg was a sung-through musical in which all the dialogue was set to music, a revolutionary concept at the time.
Legrand's score for Le Mans is an extremely pleasing entry into his overall canon of work. A jazz score in every definition, he uses an impressionistic approach to convey the notion of speed.