Marvin Hamlisch remembered for musical scores on Broadway and film
The composer, who passed away Monday in California, won multiple awards for his music that was heard on stage and screen.
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In his teens, he switched from piano recitals to songwriting. Show music held a special fascination for him. Hamlisch's first important job in the theater was as rehearsal pianist for the Broadway production of "Funny Girl" with Streisand in 1964. He graduated to other shows like "Fade Out-Fade In," ''Golden Rainbow" and "Henry, Sweet Henry," and other jobs like arranging dance and vocal music.Skip to next paragraph
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"Maybe I'm old-fashioned," he told The Associated Press in 1986. "But I remember the beauty and thrill of being moved by Broadway musicals — particularly the endings of shows. The end of 'West Side Story,' where audiences cried their eyes out. The last few chords of 'My Fair Lady.' Just great."
Although he was one of the youngest students ever at Juilliard, he never studied conducting. "I remember somebody told me, 'Earn while you learn,'" he told The AP in 1996.
"The Way We Were" exemplified Hamlisch's old-fashioned appeal — it was a big, sentimental movie ballad that brought huge success in the rock era. He was extremely versatile, able to write for stage and screen, for soundtracks ranging from Woody Allen comedies to a somber drama like "Ordinary People."
He was perhaps even better known for his work adapting Joplin on "The Sting." In the mid-'70s, it seemed everybody with a piano had the sheet music to "The Entertainer," the movie's theme song. To this day, it's blasted by ice cream trucks.
Hamlisch's place in popular culture reached beyond his music. Known for his nerdy look, complete with thick eyeglasses, that image was sealed on NBC's "Saturday Night Live" during Gilda Radner's "Nerd" sketches. Radner, playing Lisa Loopner, would swoon over Hamlisch.
Hamlisch was principal pops conductor for symphony orchestras in Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Dallas, Pasadena, Seattle and San Diego at the time of his death. He was to be announced to the same position with the Philadelphia Orchestra and also was due to lead the New York Philharmonic during its upcoming New Year's Eve concert.
He was working on a new musical, "Gotta Dance," at the time of his death and was scheduled to write the score for a new film on Liberace, "Behind the Candelabra."
He leaves behind a legacy in film and music that transcended notes on the page. As illustrative as the scenes playing out in front of the music, his scores helped define some of Hollywood's most iconic works.
He is survived by his wife of 25 years, Terre.