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Francis Lai
Lai in 1972
Francis Albert Lai

(1932-04-26)26 April 1932
Died7 November 2018(2018-11-07) (aged 86)
Paris, France
OccupationFilm score composer
Years active1952–2018

Francis Albert Lai (French: [fʁɑ̃sislɛ]; 26 April 1932 – 7 November 2018) was a French composer, noted for his film scores. He won the 1970 Oscar for Best Music, Original Score and the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score for the film Love Story. The soundtrack album went to No. 2 in the Billboard album charts and the film's theme, "Where Do I Begin", was a hit single for Andy Williams.

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  • Francis Lai - Concerto Pour La Fin D'un Amou


Life and career

Lai was born on 26 April 1932, in Nice, France, the son of market gardeners of Italian origin.[1][2][3] From a very early age, Lai was fascinated by music and he played first in his local regional orchestras. In Marseilles he discovered jazz and met Claude Goaty, a singer of popular songs in the 50s.[4]

While in his twenties, Lai left home and followed Goaty to Paris, where he became part of the Montmartre music scene. At the "Taverne d'Attilio" on the Place du Tertre in Montmartre, Lai met Bernard Dimey [fr] with whom Lai composed his first song, the start of a partnership which would produce over one hundred songs. After a short period with the orchestra of Michel Magne, Lai became an accompanist for Édith Piaf and composed for her.[4]

In 1965, he met filmmaker Claude Lelouch and was hired to help write the score for the film A Man and a Woman. Released in 1966, the film was an international success, earning a number of Academy Awards.[5] The young Lai received a Golden Globe Award nomination for "Best Original Score".[6] This initial success brought more opportunities to work for the film industry both in his native France, where he continued to work with Lelouch on scores to films such as Vivre pour vivre (1967), Un homme qui me plaît (1969), Le voyou (1970) and La bonne année (1973), as well as in Great Britain and the United States.[7][8] He was known for his support of Mireille Mathieu in many compositions and recordings.[1] In 1970 he wrote the score for director René Clément's film, Rider on the Rain ("Le passager de la pluie"). It sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold disc in September 1971.[9]

In 1970, Lai won the Academy Award for Best Music, Original Score and the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score for the film Love Story. In the United States, the soundtrack album reached No. 2 in the Billboard album charts and the film's theme, "Where Do I Begin", was a hit single with lyrics by Carl Sigman for singer Andy Williams.[10][11] The song would also be recorded successfully by Lai himself, with a full orchestra, and by Henry Mancini and Shirley Bassey.[12][13][14] Lai's "Love Story" theme was heard in the 1978 Love Story sequel titled Oliver's Story, although the main score was composed by Lee Holdridge.[15]

His movie scores included films as diverse as Mayerling, Three into Two Won't Go, International Velvet, Édith et Marcel, and Michael Winner films such as I'll Never Forget What's'isname and Hannibal Brooks. Lai also had success with music written for softcore erotic films like Emmanuelle 2 (1975) and Bilitis (1977).[16] Reviewing the soundtrack for Bilitis for AllMusic, Thom Jurek said: "The result would be hilarious if it weren't so predictable. This music is light to the point of almost not being there... Lai uses synthesizers, acoustic guitars, and a truckload of strings to weave what is supposed to be the "perfect" setting for two young lovers to do what young lovers do, but has it all coming out of the wash sounding like a commercial for those laundry detergents that are airy fresh, or a silent movie score where the music is supposed to tell you that this is a pensive moment."[17]

His composition "Aujourd'hui C'est Toi" (Today It's You) is probably best known in the UK as the theme music for the long-running BBC current affairs documentary series Panorama.[18]

In a career spanning forty years, Lai also wrote music for television programs and alone or in collaboration with others has composed music for more than one hundred films and personally wrote more than six hundred songs. He wrote the music for the Perry Como hit "I Think of You", with lyrics by Rod McKuen.[19]

Personal life and death

In 1968 Lai married Dagmar Puetz. The couple had two sons and one daughter.[2]

Lai died on 7 November 2018, aged 86, at his home in Paris.[20][21][22][23]


Lai enjoyed frequent collaborations with French director Claude Lelouch. As a composer, Lai has at least 131 film credits to his name.[3] AllMusic lists 1,321 individual credits.[24]


Award nominations:



  1. ^ a b "La carrière exceptionnelle du compositeur Francis Lai". Le 8 November 2018. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Francis Lai Biography (1932-)". Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Francis Lai". IMDb. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Official site". Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  5. ^ ""A Man and a Woman" (NY)". 16 September 2014. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  6. ^ "Un homme et une femme". Retrieved 8 November 2018 – via
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Films in the 60s". Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab "Films in the 70s". Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  9. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. pp. 281–282. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
  10. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2009). Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles, 1955-2008. Record Research Inc. ISBN 978-0898201802.
  11. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2007). Joel Whitburn Presents Billboard Top Adult Songs, 1961-2006. Record Research Inc. ISBN 978-0898201697.
  12. ^ *Whitburn, Joel (2009). Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles, 1955-2008. Record Research Inc. p. 552. ISBN 978-0898201802.
  13. ^ "Theme from "Love Story" (Where Do I Begin) - Henry Mancini - Song Info - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  14. ^ "(where do i begin) love story - full Official Chart History - Official Charts Company". Official Charts. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  15. ^ Maslin, Janet (15 December 1978). "Screen: After 'Love Story'". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  16. ^ Sweeting, Adam (9 November 2018). "Francis Lai obituary". the Guardian. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  17. ^ "Bilitis (Original Film Soundtrack) - Francis Lai - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  18. ^ "Panorama's theme tune". 10 December 2008. Retrieved 9 November 2018 – via
  19. ^ "I Think of You". Kokomo. Archived from the original on April 29, 2013. Retrieved 5 April 2011.
  20. ^ "Oscar-winning Love Story composer dies at 86". BBC News. 8 November 2018. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  21. ^ Burlingame, Jon (8 November 2018). "Francis Lai, Oscar-Winning 'Love Story' Composer, Dies at 86". Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  22. ^ "Francis Lai, Oscar-Winning 'Love Story' Composer, Dies at 86". Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  23. ^ ""A Great Musician and Composer": Francis Lai is dead". Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  24. ^ "Francis Lai - Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  25. ^ "A Man and a Woman [Un Homme et une Femme] - Francis Lai - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  26. ^ 13 Days in France (1968), Retrieved 17 February 2019.
  27. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Films in the 80s". Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  28. ^ "Various – Sins -Francis Lai- Original TV Soundtrack". Discogs. 1986. Retrieved 22 June 2021.
  29. ^ "Francis Lai". IMDb. Retrieved 24 June 2021.
  30. ^ a b c d e "Films in the 90s". Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  31. ^ "Les Clés du paradis - IMDB". IMDb. Retrieved 27 April 2021.
  32. ^ a b "Films in the 2000s". Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  33. ^ Oscars (8 February 2014). "Love Story Wins Original Score: 1970 Oscars". Archived from the original on 2021-12-13. Retrieved 9 November 2018 – via YouTube.
  34. ^ "1971 - Drama: Love Story". Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  35. ^ Awards, World Soundtrack. "14th World Soundtrack Awards Ceremony & Concert!". World Soundtrack Awards. Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  36. ^ a b "Francis Lai to Receive Lifetime Achievement Award at Ghent Film Festival - Film Music Reporter". Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  37. ^ a b "Francis Lai". Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  38. ^ "BAFTA Awards". Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  39. ^ "BAFTA Awards Search - BAFTA Awards". Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  40. ^ "Awards". Retrieved 11 November 2018.

Other sources

  • Lacombe, Alain; Rocle, Claude (1979). "Lai, Francis". In Francis van de Velde (ed.). La Musique du film (in French). pp. 277–278. ISBN 978-2-862-9900-57.

External links

This page was last edited on 19 February 2024, at 06:25
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