French president Nicolas Sarkozy has led the tributes to Academy Award-winning composer Maurice Jarre, who has died at the age of 84.

Jarre died at home on March 29 in Los Angeles, where he had lived since the mid 1960s. Having begun his career writing music for theatrical productions in his native France, he started writing for films in 1952, but came to international prominence with his sweeping orchestral score for the 1962 epic "Lawrence of Arabia," for which he won his first Academy Award.

In a statement, Sarkozy hailed him as "a great composer who bequeaths us a generous and majestic body of work." His work, said Sarkozy, "broadened the public for symphonic music."

Jarre won a further two Academy Awards, for "Dr Zhivago" in 1966 and "A Passage To India" in 1984. He was Academy Award-nominated a further six times. His other best-known scores included "Ghost," "Gorillas In The Mist" and "Witness."

Overall, he composed music for some 150 movies. His last completed score was for the 2000 film "I Dreamed of Africa." According to Sarkozy, "by working with some of the greatest filmmakers in the world, [Jarre] showed that music can be just as important as pictures to make a beautiful and successful film."

In February, Jarre made his final public appearance at the Berlin Film Festival, where he collected an honorary Golden Bear award for his lifetime achievement. He is survived by his daughter Stefanie and his sons, pioneering electronic musician Jean Michel Jarre and Kevin -- a Hollywood screenwriter whose credits include include "The Mummy," "Rambo: First Blood Part II," "Glory," and "Tombstone."