“The memories can do nothing against oblivion”, sang Michel Legrand. Personalities from the world of art and admirers and strangers who came to pay him a last tribute this Friday at the Theatre Marigny give him wrong. They were 1500 in the room. The place is symbolic. The musical comedy the Skin of an Ass , one of the last projects of the composer, plays at this time and the composer was obliged to réochestrer his music for the adaptation to the scene in the film of Jacques Demy.

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Macha Méril, the widow of Michel Legrand, welcomes guests to the orchestra. Pierre Richard between bursts, followed by Anne Hidalgo. Bassist Tony Bonfils is there, as many of the companions of road of the musician. Here, everyone has known Michel Legrand, and everybody knows everybody. The orchestra, the first rows are reserved for family. One hesitates to sit down.

Rise of the curtain. The coffin of Michel Legrand arrives on the scene. Behind, the scenery of the Skin of an Ass has been preserved: an enchanted forest, light grey. Only the great photography of Michel Legrand lets us remember that this is not a dream, but a farewell.

Surrounded by the whole troop of the Skin of an ass , the master of the house, Jean-Luc Choplin is addressed to his “dear Michel, lyricist of happiness”. The director of the Marigny holds hard to her tears. He wants to install this “silence of the hearts which allows the music to be better heard”. The Song of Maxence , Without you , or The Ransom of glory echo in the theatre.

Franck Riester is in charge of telling the story of the career non-standard of the “giant” of Michel Legrand, his friendships with Miles Davis to his period New Wave. “In the name of France and on my personal behalf, I want to pay tribute to an exceptional artist,” says-t it. Behind him parading images of the “grand Michel”. He is seen on horseback, by car, by travelling, on the red carpet or to the wand. Éric-Emmanuel Schmitt applauds wildly.

the sadness in The films of Agnès Varda, the gratitude of Jean-Paul Rappeneau

“Speak to the side of the coffin of Michel, it is difficult,” says Agnès Varda, the voice chevrotante, barely large enough to reach the microphone. She refers to “his little life moments” shared with the composer. When Jacques Demy, her husband, and Michel Legrand were in a small train instead of compose the music of the young girls of Rochefort , or when, a few weeks ago, she went for a drink with the musician to talk about the old days, “”hand in hand”. In the audience, Corinne Marchand, actress and interpreter of the songs of Michel Legrand in Cleo from 5 to 7 , is moved.

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The novelist Didier Van Cauwelaert, for which Michel Legrand has signed the music of the musical comedy The Wall Pass can’t believe he was really gone. “You are everywhere”, he says. Before advising to “make the love with his music.”

taken aback, Jean-Paul Rappeneau says “hello” to the coffin, and “good evening” to the public. He loses the thread. The rewinds in spite of everything. He will be always remembered shivering caused by the music of the Life in a castle , that he composed Michel Legrand in 1966. This collaboration has made a lasting mark. “He gave The rest of my life,” says the director. Xavier Beauvois, for which Michel Legrand composed the music for The Ransom of glory in 2014, Babysitters in 2016, remembers having “watched hours with him coypus walking in the grass,” or his fear when the musician took, illegally, the controls of an Airbus back to Budapest.

Frédéric Beigbeder has met with Michel Legrand on the set of his film love lasts three years . He played his own role. “At least his death would enable France to realize the genius of Michel Legrand”, lance-t-il, followed by a thunder of applause.

The curtain falls. The “book of his life is closed,” as in La valse des Lilas . The coffin of Michel Legrand shakes to the Père Lachaise. Under the applause. What music would he have composed for this scene sad cry.