Frenchman Francis Lai, the cult soundtrack composer who gave a distinctive feel to films such as Claude Lelouch’s “A Man and a Woman/Un homme et une femme”), “Bilitis and “Love Story” will receive a lifetime award at the upcoming World Soundtrack Awards in Ghent, Belgium in October 2014.
UPDATE: Francis Lai died at the age of 86 on November 7, 2018.
Composer for “A Man and A Woman”
Lai was born to market gardeners in 1932 in Nice, and became world famous with “A man and a woman” (1966) and went to compose over 100 scores over the next four decades. The “chabadabada” tune of “A man and a woman” topped the music charts at the time. He introduced the unusual use of both English and French chansons sung by Pierre Barouh and Nicole Croisille, which became a trademark romantic sound in French film music.
Lai’s biggest international hit came in 1970 with the incredibly romantic soundtrack of the phenomenal blockbuster “Love Story” by Arthur Hiller. This was followed by cult success with the film “Bilitis” (1977) by soft-core photographer David Hamilton. Other films for which he wrote the music are “Rider on the Rain” by Rene Clement, “Anima Persa” by Italian director Dino Risi, “My new Partner” by Claude Zidi and “Dark Eyes” by Nikita Mikhalkov. Although he is known for almost irresistible melodies, Lai has also produced very distinctive pieces for orchestras, individual songs (including “I Think of You” for Perry Coo) and works close to Italian folk music.
Theme from Love Story (1970) - Francis Lai by momti
Lai recently worked on yet another film with Lelouch, “Salaud, on t’aime/Bastard we Love You” for which he revealed the unusual synergy between the two. “With Lelouch, I always begin writing the music before he begins shooting the film,” he said. “Then he can use the tracks to create an atmosphere, an ambiance on the set, and get the actors in the right mood. It’s been our work method since A Man and A Woman.”
During the World Soundtrack Awards concert in October 25, 2014, Lai will receive the Award and a selection of his work will be performed by the Brussels Philharmonic orchestra conducted by Dirk Brossé.
Confirmed central guests and performers at the World Soundtrack Awards are American composer Cliff Martinez (“Drive”, “Only God Forgives”, “Contagion” and “Spring Breakers”) and 2013 WSA Discovery Award winner Dan Romer (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”) and jazz musician Jeff Neve.