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