August 07, 2012

Musical Giant Marvin Hamlisch Dies at 68

Hamlisch Marvin

ASCAP mourns the untimely passing of one of our most distinguished, accomplished and honored members - composer/arranger/conductor/pianist Marvin Hamlisch. New York City native Hamlisch died in Los Angeles at 68 on August 6th, following a brief illness. He was one of the very rare individuals to have received Oscar, Tony, Emmy and Grammy Awards, as well as the Pulitzer Prize. His musical achievements encompassed Musical Theatre, Film and Television, Pop and Symphonic Music.

ASCAP President and Chairman Paul Williams commented, "The sudden passing of Marvin Hamlisch is a great loss to ASCAP and to American Music. As a composer, conductor, arranger and pianist, Marvin worked from what seemed to be a bottomless well of musical creativity, talent and knowledge. His best-known works - A Chorus Line, "The Way We Were" (with lyrics by Alan & Marilyn Bergman) and his version of Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer" - are just the tip of a rock-solid body of music. I know all ASCAP members join me in mourning his loss."

Hamlisch's musical gifts were on display very early and he was accepted into the Juilliard School before his seventh birthday, the school's youngest-ever student. His long association with Barbra Streisand began when he was hired as rehearsal pianist for her hit musical, Funny Girl. He later co-wrote the theme for her film, The Way We Were, with Alan & Marilyn Bergman, and served as musical director for two of Streisand's TV specials.

The mid-1960's saw Hamlisch achieve Pop success with Lesley Gore's hit recordings of his songs "Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows" and "California Nights." At 24, he was hired to score The Swimmer, starring Burt Lancaster, beginning his long career in film music.

The 1970's was the decade in which Hamlisch achieved celebrity as a multi-Oscar-winning composer (for his contributions to The Way We Were and The Sting), as the co-creator, with Ed Kleban, of the iconic, Pulitzer Prize and Tony-winning Broadway score of A Chorus Line and as the performer and arranger of Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer" from The Sting, which reached number three on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. In 1977, Carly Simon recorded Hamlisch's "Nobody Does It Better," the theme from The Spy Who Loved Me, which was a number two hit and earned him an Oscar nomination.

Hamlisch's other film scores include Bananas, Starting Over, Ordinary People, Sophie's Choice, Three Men and a Baby and The Informant! Additional Hamlisch Broadway scores are They're Playing Our Song, Sweet Smell of Success and the upcoming The Nutty Professor, among others. In 2006, He was honored for his lifetime of achievement in Musical Theatre with The ASCAP Foundation Richard Rodgers Award.

"He was more than our collaborator; he was our beloved friend, he was family," said famed songwriters Alan & Marilyn Bergman. "The world will miss his music, his humor, his genius, and we will miss him every day for the rest of our lives."

At the time of his death, Hamlisch was Principal Pops Conductor of the following orchestras: The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, the San Diego Symphony, the Seattle Symphony, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and the Pasadena Symphony and Pops. The Dallas Symphony premiered Hamlisch's symphonic suite The Anatomy of Peace in 1991. The work was performed again in 1994 in Paris to coincide with the 50th Anniversary of the D-Day Invasion.