Michel Colombier  

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Michel Colombier (1939 — 2004), was a French composer, songwriter, arranger, and conductor, best known internationally for "Messe pour le temps présent" (1967) and his collaborations with Serge Gainsbourg.


He was born in France, and began his musical education at the age of six. By age fourteen, he had discovered jazz and improvisation and was performing with small combos and big bands. At twenty-two, he was hired as Musical Director of Barclay Records, and his freshman assignment was to arrange Charles Aznavour's first album in English for release in the United States. He composed the music for "Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme" at the Comedie Francaise, his only creation for stage. Michel entered the world of ballet with one of Maurice Bejart's masterpieces, "Messe Pour Le Temps Present," co-written with legendary avant-garde composer, Pierre Henry. He went on to co-write for many years with the legendary Serge Gainsbourg. He collaborated with some of the most prestigious artists in his native France including Charles Aznavour, Brigitte Fontaine, Jean-Luc Ponty, Catherine Deneuve, Jeanne Moreau, and Stephane Grappelli.

Petula Clark chose him as her Musical Director and invited him to come with her to the United States. In addition to arranging her material, he co-wrote with her a number of songs. She introduced him to Herb Alpert of A&M Records, who immediately signed him as an artist/composer/performer. This collaboration gave birth to the legendary album Wings. A rock oratorio which made use of a symphony orchestra and choir and prefigured the work of such bands as Queen, it garnered three Grammy Award nominations and spawned a Genie Award-winning television special.

In Japan, he became known as "Fusion-sama", and has been referred to as the "Godfather of French Fusion." Colombier's music is best described as part classical, part jazz, part visual sonics . . . but always full of beauty. He continued to inspire and influence other artists throughout his long and vast career. During the course of his career, Colombier worked with an extremely diversified array of artists, including the Beach Boys, Supertramp, Herb Alpert, Quincy Jones, Roberta Flack, Barbra Streisand, Johnny Mathis, Neil Diamond, Herbie Hancock, Earth Wind and Fire, Joni Mitchell, David Sanborn, Branford Marsalis, Bobby McFerrin, Jaco Pastorius and Madonna. He arranged the strings for her theme to Die Another Day and worked on her album American Life. His score for her critically savaged film Swept Away was probably the movie's only saving grace.

Colombier scored more than one hundred feature, cable, and television films. In his native France, he worked with a legendary list of directors including Claude Lelouch, Philippe Labro, Agnès Varda, Vittorio de Sica, Jean-Pierre Melville, Henri Verneuil, and Jacques Demy. In the United States, his credits were eclectic and diverse, including the box office hits How Stella Got Her Groove Back, New Jack City, Ruthless People, The Golden Child, White Nights, Against All Odds, and - with Prince - the legendary Purple Rain, for which he won a Grammy as well as an Academy Award for Best Song Score. Colombier received many other film awards throughout his career, including two Cesar Awards, a Golden Globe nomination, a People's Choice Award, and an Ace nomination.

As a conductor, he led many of the world's great orchestras, including the London Symphony Orchestra, the Covent Garden Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Houston Symphony, the Chicago Orchestra, the Denver Symphony Orchestra, the Paris Opera, and the English Chamber Orchestra, among others. He wrote numerous classical and symphonic commissions, including works featuring Ernie Watts, Kronos String Quartet, Michael Brecker, Stephane Grappelli, Toots Thielemans, and Katia and Marielle Labèque.

Colombier also wrote the music for more than twenty ballets, and worked with some of the world's greatest dance companies and choreographers, including Twyla Tharp, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Daniel Ezralow, Roland Petit, and Maurice Bejart.

Colombier died of cancer in Santa Monica. He was survived by his second wife Dana, their daughters Emily, Siena and Arabella, and three children from previous marriages in France, Christian, Agathe, and David.

See also

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1100 Bel Air Place, 11th Victim, A Special Part of Me, Against All Odds (1984 film), Against All Odds (soundtrack), Airto Moreira, Amarte Es un Placer (album), American Life, Any Day Now (Scott Walker album), Asterix and the Big Fight (film), Barb Wire (1996 film), Bill Medley, Bonnie and Clyde (Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot album), Bridging a Gap, Brigitte Fontaine, Buddy Childers, Buried Alive (1990 TV film), Buried Alive II, Captain Fingers, César Award for Best Original Music, Chansons d'Ennui Tip-Top, Charlie Souza, Chris Botti in Boston, Claudine's Return, Colossus: The Forbin Project, Come Saturday Morning (Liza Minnelli album), Cop (film), Crossmen Drum and Bugle Corps, Daybreak (1993 film), Deacons for Defense (film), Deaths in November 2004, Deep Cover (soundtrack), Deep Cover, Deirdre (song), Diary of a Hitman, Die Another Day (song), Don Juan's Reckless Daughter, Don Menza, Don't Tell Me (Madonna song), Double or Nothing (Lani Hall album), Electric Universe (album), Élisa (film), Emotion (Barbra Streisand album), Ernie Watts, Even in the Quietest Moments..., Every Bastard a King, Fandango (Herb Alpert album), Fever (1991 film), Florida Straits (film), Folks!, Foxfire (1996 film), Frampton Forgets the Words, Hello It's Me (album), Hole in the Moon, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, If I Were a Spy, If the Car Beside You Moves Ahead, Impulse (1990 film), Initials B.B., Irv Gotti Presents: The Murderers, Isabelle Aubret, Jackie Kelso, Jaco Pastorius discography, Jaco Pastorius, Jamal Othman, Je t'aime... moi non plus, Jean-Luc Ponty, Jean-Michel Folon, John Debney, Julien Falk, Kathleen Wakefield, Lady (Dennis Wilson song), L'Alpagueur, Largo Winch (TV series), Law Breakers, List of awards and nominations received by Phil Collins, List of French composers, List of music arrangers, List of songs about Los Angeles, Live (Johnny Mathis album), Louie Louie, Loverboy (1989 film), Lynn Davis discography, Major League II, Mary & Tim, Maurice White (album), Max Bennett (musician), May 23, Meet Wally Sparks, Memento (Soel album), Michel Portal, Mr. Freedom, Murder in My Mind, Music (Madonna album), New Jack City, New York Connection, Night Life (Maxine Nightingale album), No Más (album), Norman Cook discography, November 14, Our Sweet Love, Out Cold (1989 film), Out of Darkness, Paris 7000, Paul and Michelle, Peter Kember, Petula Clark, Phil Perry, Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park and Mortuary, Pierre Henry, Pink Elephants, Posse (1993 film), Primitive (Neil Diamond album), Pros & Cons, Purple Rain (film), Right from the Heart, Ruthless People, Sabrina Down Under, Satisfaction (1988 film), Scattering Dad, Screwed (2000 film), Simon Basinger, Slaughterhouse (Slaughterhouse album), St Germain (musician), Steel (1979 film), Strays (1991 film), Strictly Business (1991 film), Sun Down Lady, Surrender (1987 film), Sweet Bird, Swept Away (2002 film), Tagget, Take a Load Off Your Feet, Tales from the Crypt (TV series), Talkie Walkie, Tears in the Morning, Teaser (Angela Bofill album), That's What Friends Are For (Johnny Mathis and Deniece Williams album), The Couch Trip, The Dark Wind (1991 film), The Dictator's Guns, The Gardener of Argenteuil, The Golden Child, The Inheritor, The Model Couple, The Money Pit, The Program (1993 film), The Ron Hicklin Singers, The Scarlet Lady (1969 film), The Washington Ballet, The Wild Pair (film), The Young and the Restless, Time & Love, Trippin' (film), Un flic, Une chambre en ville, Une souris chez les hommes, Varèse Sarabande albums discography, Warden of Red Rock, Watching You, Watching Me, White Nights (1985 film), Who's Harry Crumb?, Woo (film)

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