Com­poser Lai won Os­car for mu­si­cal score of ‘Love Story’

San Antonio Express-News - - LIFE TRIBUTES - By Matt Schudel

Fran­cis Lai, who won an Acad­emy Award for his heart-tug­ging mu­si­cal score of the block­buster 1970 movie “Love Story” and who com­posed the mu­sic for 100 films, in­clud­ing the 1966 hit French film “A Man and a Woman,” died Nov. 7 in Nice, France. He was 86.

His death was an­nounced by the mayor of Nice, Chris­tian Estrosi. The cause was not dis­closed.

Lai twice turned down of­fers to work on “Love Story.” He was fi­nally per­suaded by French ac­tor Alain Delon, who flew to Paris with Paramount stu­dio head Robert Evans to show Lai a rough.

“I came out of the screen­ing in­cred­i­bly moved,” Lai said in a state­ment to the Los An­ge­les Times in 2001. “I went straight home, sat at my key­board and wrote that theme that very night.”

The haunt­ing score, much of it played on piano, deep­ens the heart-tug­ging qual­ity of the movie, which fea­tured Ali Mac­Graw and Ryan O’Neal as col­lege lovers. “Love Story” was nom­i­nated for seven Os­cars, but the only one it won was for Lai’s score.

Lai be­gan his mu­si­cal ca­reer as an ac­cor­dion player and as an ac­com­pa­nist to the renowned French chanteuse Edith Piaf. He was pri­mar­ily a song­writer be­fore be­ing in­tro­duced to film­maker Claude Lelouch, who in­vited Lai to com­pose a score for “A Man and a Woman” — and for an­other 35 films on which they worked to­gether.

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