As an accordian player, Francis Lai moved from his home town of Nice initially to Marseilles and then to Paris, where he played regularly in clubs. He started writing songs and met Edith Piaf, whom he accompanied on the piano and composed some songs for. He was introduced to the filmmaker Claude Lelouch who was to engage Lai as the score composer for his movie "Un homme et une Femme". You could easily say at this point that 'the rest is history' because it was to change the course of Lai's music career. The film itself was a major success and recognised widely with awards, Lai himself winning a Golden Globe for the score. As might be expected, Francis Lai then found himself in demand as a composer, and he had a number of successful soundtracks including "Vivre Pour Vivre", "Le Passager de la Pluie" and then "Love Story". It was "Love Story" and its main song "Where Do I Begin" which was to seal Lai's reputation. He won the oscar for Best Original Score, and the song has been included not just on the soundtrack album, but there have been countless cover versions with the song appearing in numerous other films and TV programmes.
It may be that his newly earned reputation as a composer of romantic movies resulted in his being asked to score "Emmanuelle II", and he also scored another soft porn film called "Bilitis" whose soundtrack has also proven to be very successful. Although many of his songs are familiar from their use on film and television, there is one instrumental track which is particularly well-known in the UK. The theme for the BBC documentary series "Panorama" is based on the track "Aujourd'hui C'est Toi" (Today it's You) which he composed for "Un Homme Et Une Femme". We have included links below in the television section to allow you to hear both the original track and the TV theme.
The composer's official website is at www.Francis-Lai.com.
For the most part, Francis Lai's involvement in television has been through the re-use of his songs and instrumental tracks. One particularly well-known theme to UK viewers is the theme from "Panorama" which is adapted from a track called "Aujourd'hui C'est Toi" (Today It's You) from the film "Un Homme Et Une Femme". Here on youtube you can listen to the original tack by Francis Lai and the adapted track (with voiceover) as used on Panorama. The same music was used on a BBC television series called "Spy Trap" which ran in the early 1970s.
If you want to sample the film music of Francis Lai, one recent compilation album is "Francis Lai: The Essential Film Music Collection" which has his most famous tracks from "Un Homme et Une Femme", "Love Story", "Bilitis", "Emmanuelle II", "Vivre pour Vivre", "13 Jours en France", "Mayerling", and more. This and other soundtrack albums are listed below, though note that some soundtracks are known by their French title while others have the title in English.