Marvin Hamlisch

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Marvin Hamlisch
Marvin Hamlisch - 1970s.jpg
Hamlisch in early 1970s
Background information
Birth nameMarvin Frederick Hamlisch
Born(1944-06-02)June 2, 1944
New York, New York, U.S.
DiedAugust 6, 2012(2012-08-06) (aged 68)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Genres Musical theatre  · Film music  · Pops
Occupation(s) Composer  · Conductor
Instruments Piano
Years active1965–2012

Marvin Frederick Hamlisch (June 2, 1944 – August 6, 2012) was an American composer and conductor. Hamlisch was one of only fifteen people to win Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards. This collection of all four is referred to as an "EGOT". He is one of only two people (along with composer Richard Rodgers) to have won those four prizes and a Pulitzer Prize ("PEGOT").

Composer person who creates music, either by musical notation or oral tradition

A composer is a musician who is an author of music in any form, including vocal music, instrumental music, electronic music, and music which combines multiple forms. A composer may create music in any music genre, including, for example, classical music, musical theatre, blues, folk music, jazz, and popular music. Composers often express their works in a written musical score using musical notation.

Conducting directing a musical performance by way of visible gestures

Conducting is the art of directing a musical performance, such as an orchestral or choral concert. It has been defined as "the art of directing the simultaneous performance of several players or singers by the use of gesture." The primary duties of the conductor are to interpret the score in a way which reflects the specific indications in that score, set the tempo, ensure correct entries by ensemble members, and "shape" the phrasing where appropriate. Conductors communicate with their musicians primarily through hand gestures, usually with the aid of a baton, and may use other gestures or signals such as eye contact. A conductor usually supplements their direction with verbal instructions to their musicians in rehearsal.

Richard Rodgers American composer of songs and Broadway musicals

Richard Charles Rodgers was an American composer of music, with over 900 songs and 43 Broadway musicals, leaving a legacy as one of the most significant composers of 20th-century American music. He is best known for his songwriting partnerships with the lyricists Lorenz Hart and Oscar Hammerstein II. His compositions have had a significant impact on popular music.


Early life

Hamlisch was born in Manhattan, to Viennese-born Jewish parents Lilly (née Schachter) and Max Hamlisch. [1] His father was an accordionist and bandleader. Hamlisch was a child prodigy and, by age five, he began mimicking the piano music he heard on the radio. A few months before he turned seven, in 1951, he was accepted into what is now the Juilliard School Pre-College Division. [2]

Manhattan Borough in New York City and county in New York, United States

Manhattan, often referred to locally as the City, is the most densely populated of the five boroughs of New York City and its economic and administrative center, cultural identifier, and historical birthplace. The borough is coextensive with New York County, one of the original counties of the U.S. state of New York. The borough consists mostly of Manhattan Island, bounded by the Hudson, East, and Harlem rivers; several small adjacent islands; and Marble Hill, a small neighborhood now on the U.S. mainland, physically connected to the Bronx and separated from the rest of Manhattan by the Harlem River. Manhattan Island is divided into three informally bounded components, each aligned with the borough's long axis: Lower, Midtown, and Upper Manhattan.

Vienna Capital city and state of Austria

Vienna is the federal capital, largest city and one of nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primate city, with a population of about 1.9 million, and its cultural, economic, and political centre. It is the 7th-largest city by population within city limits in the European Union. Until the beginning of the 20th century, it was the largest German-speaking city in the world, and before the splitting of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in World War I, the city had 2 million inhabitants. Today, it has the second largest number of German speakers after Berlin. Vienna is host to many major international organizations, including the United Nations and OPEC. The city is located in the eastern part of Austria and is close to the borders of Czechia, Slovakia, and Hungary. These regions work together in a European Centrope border region. Along with nearby Bratislava, Vienna forms a metropolitan region with 3 million inhabitants. In 2001, the city centre was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In July 2017 it was moved to the list of World Heritage in Danger.

Jews ancient nation and ethnoreligious group from the Levant

Jews or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and a nation, originating from the Israelites and Hebrews of historical Israel and Judah. Jewish ethnicity, nationhood, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the ethnic religion of the Jewish people, while its observance varies from strict observance to complete nonobservance.


Hamlisch's first job was as a rehearsal pianist for Funny Girl with Barbra Streisand. Shortly afterward, he was hired by producer Sam Spiegel to play piano at Spiegel's parties. This connection led to his first film score, The Swimmer . [2] His favorite musicals growing up were My Fair Lady , Gypsy , West Side Story , and Bye Bye Birdie . [3] Hamlisch attended Queens College, earning his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1967. [2]

<i>Funny Girl</i> (musical) musical

Funny Girl is a 1963 musical with a book by Isobel Lennart, music by Jule Styne, and lyrics by Bob Merrill. The semi-biographical plot is based on the life and career of Broadway star, film actress and comedian Fanny Brice featuring her stormy relationship with entrepreneur and gambler Nick Arnstein. Its original title was My Man.

Barbra Streisand American singer, actress, writer, film producer, and director

Barbara Joan "Barbra" Streisand is an American singer, actress, and filmmaker. In a career spanning six decades, she has achieved success in multiple fields of entertainment and has been recognized with two Academy Awards, ten Grammy Awards including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and the Grammy Legend Award, five Emmy Awards including one Daytime Emmy, a Special Tony Award, an American Film Institute award, a Kennedy Center Honors prize, four Peabody Awards, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and nine Golden Globes. She is among a small group of entertainers who have been honored with an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award – though only three were competitive awards – and is one of only two artists in that group who have also won a Peabody.

Samuel P. Spiegel was a Austro-Polish-born American independent film producer. He was the first to win the Academy Award for Best Picture three times, and the only one to be the sole producer on all three winning films.

Music for films

Although Liza Minnelli's debut album included "The Travelin' Life", a song he wrote in his teens (originally titled "Travelin' Man"), [4] his first hit did not come until he was 21 years old. This song, "Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows", co-written with Howard Liebling, was recorded by Lesley Gore and reached No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the summer of 1965. [5] His first film score was for The Swimmer , after the film's producer Sam Spiegel hired Hamlisch based on a piano performance Hamlisch did at a party. [5] Later he wrote music for several early Woody Allen films such as Take the Money and Run and Bananas . In addition, Hamlisch co-wrote the song "California Nights" (also with Liebling), which was recorded by Lesley Gore for her 1967 hit album of the same name. The Bob Crewe-produced single peaked at No. 16 on the Hot 100 in March 1967, two months after Gore had performed the song on the Batman television series, in which she guest-starred as an accomplice to Julie Newmar's Catwoman.

Liza Minnelli American actress and singer

Liza May Minnelli is an American actress and singer. Best known for her Academy Award-winning performance in Cabaret (1972), she is known for her energetic stage presence and her powerful mezzo-soprano singing voice. She is the daughter of Judy Garland and Vincente Minnelli. She is of Italian and mixed European descent.

Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows 1965 single by Lesley Gore

"Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows" is a popular song sung by Lesley Gore. It was originally released on Gore's 1963 album Lesley Gore Sings of Mixed-Up Hearts. The song, composed by Marvin Hamlisch, was released as a single in conjunction with Gore's rendition in the 1965 film Ski Party. It was arranged by Claus Ogerman and produced by Quincy Jones. The tune peaked at #13 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Lesley Gore American recording artist, singer, songwriter

Lesley Sue Goldstein, known professionally as Lesley Gore, was an American singer, songwriter, actress, and activist. At the age of 16 she recorded the pop hit "It's My Party", and followed it up with other hits including "Judy's Turn to Cry", "She's a Fool", "You Don't Own Me", "Maybe I Know" and "California Nights".

Hamlisch, at age 29, holding two of the three Oscars he won in 1974. With him are Donald O'Connor, Debbie Reynolds and Cher. Marvin Hamlisch - Oscars.jpg
Hamlisch, at age 29, holding two of the three Oscars he won in 1974. With him are Donald O'Connor, Debbie Reynolds and Cher.

Among his better-known works during the 1970s were adaptations of Scott Joplin's ragtime music for the motion picture The Sting , including its theme song, "The Entertainer". It hit No. 1 on Billboard 's Adult Contemporary chart and No. 3 on the Hot 100, selling nearly 2 million copies in the U.S. alone. He had great success in 1973, winning two Academy Awards for the title song and the score for the motion picture The Way We Were and an Academy Award for the adaptation score for The Sting. [6] He won four Grammy Awards in 1974, two for "The Way We Were". In 1975, he wrote what, for its first 12 years, would be the original theme music for Good Morning America —it was built around four notes. He co-wrote "Nobody Does It Better" for The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) with his then-girlfriend Carole Bayer Sager, which would be nominated for an Oscar. [5] In the 1980s, he had success with the scores for Ordinary People (1980) and Sophie's Choice (1982). He also received an Academy-Award nomination in 1986 for the film version of A Chorus Line . His last projects included The Informant! (2009), starring Matt Damon and directed by Steven Soderbergh. [5] Prior to his death, he completed his first children's book Marvin Makes Music, which included the original music "The Music in My Mind" with words by Rupert Holmes, and the score for the HBO film Behind the Candelabra (2013), also directed by Soderbergh and starring Matt Damon and Michael Douglas as Liberace.

Scott Joplin American composer, musician, and pianist

Scott Joplin was an African-American composer and pianist. Joplin achieved fame for his ragtime compositions and was dubbed the King of Ragtime. During his brief career, he wrote 44 original ragtime pieces, one ragtime ballet, and two operas. One of his first and most popular pieces, the "Maple Leaf Rag", became ragtime's first and most influential hit, and has been recognized as the archetypal rag.

Ragtime – also spelled rag-time or rag time – is a musical style that enjoyed its peak popularity between 1895 and 1919. Its cardinal trait is its syncopated or "ragged" rhythm.

<i>The Sting</i> 1973 film by George Roy Hill

The Sting is a 1973 American caper film set in September 1936, involving a complicated plot by two professional grifters to con a mob boss. The film was directed by George Roy Hill, who had directed Newman and Redford in the western Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Created by screenwriter David S. Ward, the story was inspired by real-life cons perpetrated by brothers Fred and Charley Gondorff and documented by David Maurer in his book The Big Con: The Story of the Confidence Man.


Hamlisch's first major stage work was in 1972 playing piano for Groucho Marx at Carnegie Hall for An Evening with Groucho . Hamlisch acted as both straight man and accompanist while Marx, at age 81, reminisced about his career in show business. [7] The performances were released as a two-record set, and remained very popular. [8]

Groucho Marx American comedian

Julius Henry "Groucho" Marx was an American comedian, writer, stage, film, radio, and television star. A master of quick wit, he is widely considered one of America's greatest comedians.

Carnegie Hall concert hall in New York City

Carnegie Hall is a concert venue in Midtown Manhattan in New York City, United States, located at 881 Seventh Avenue, occupying the east side of Seventh Avenue between West 56th Street and West 57th Street, two blocks south of Central Park.

An Evening With Groucho is the title of a 1972 recording at New York City's Carnegie Hall of the last one-man show by American comedian Groucho Marx. Introduced by Dick Cavett, the show was released as a double album by A&M Records. Marx shared family and show business stories and performed songs from Marx Brothers stage shows and movies. Marvin Hamlisch performed an opening overture and accompanied Groucho on the piano. In 2018, the recording was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or artistically significant."

He then composed the scores for the 1975 Broadway musical A Chorus Line , for which he won both a Tony Award and a Pulitzer Prize; and for the 1978 musical They're Playing Our Song , loosely based on his relationship with Carole Bayer Sager. [9]

At the beginning of the 1980s, his romantic relationship with Bayer Sager ended, but their songwriting relationship continued. The 1983 musical Jean Seberg , based on the life of the real-life actress, failed in its London production at the UK's National Theatre and never played in the U.S. [10] In 1986, Smile was a mixed success and had a short run on Broadway. [5] The musical version of Neil Simon's The Goodbye Girl (1993) closed after only 188 performances, although he received a Drama Desk nomination, for Outstanding Music. [11]

Shortly before his death, Hamlisch finished scoring a musical theatre version of The Nutty Professor , based on the 1963 film. [12] The show played in July and August 2012, at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) in Nashville, aiming for a Broadway run. [12] [13] [14] The book is by Rupert Holmes, and the production was directed by Jerry Lewis. [15] [16]


Hamlisch conducting Official 2011 MH.jpg
Hamlisch conducting

Hamlisch was musical director and arranger of Barbra Streisand's 1994 concert tour of the U.S. and England as well as of the television special, Barbra Streisand: The Concert, for which he received two of his Emmys. He also conducted several tours of Linda Ronstadt during this period, most notably on her successful 1996 Dedicated to the One I Love tour of arenas and stadiums. [ citation needed ]

Hamlisch held the position of Principal Pops Conductor for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, [17] the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, [18] the San Diego Symphony, [19] the Seattle Symphony, [20] the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, [21] Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, [22] The National Symphony Orchestra Pops, [23] The Pasadena Symphony and Pops, [24] and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. [25]

On July 23, 2011, Hamlisch conducted his debut concert for Pasadena Symphony and Pops at The Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. Hamlisch replaced Rachael Worby. [26]

At the time of his death, he was preparing to assume responsibilities as Principal Pops Conductor for the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Honors and awards

Hamlisch is one of only 15 people to win Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards. This collection of all four is referred to as an "EGOT". He is one of only two people to have won those four prizes and a Pulitzer Prize (Richard Rodgers is the other). [27] He is one of ten people to win three or more Oscars in one night and the only one other than a director or screenwriter to do so.

Hamlisch also won two Golden Globes. He earned ten Golden Globe Award nominations, winning twice for Best Original Song, with "Life Is What You Make It" in 1972 and "The Way We Were" in 1974. [28] He also received six Emmy Award nominations, winning four times, twice for music direction of Barbra Streisand specials, in 1995 and 2001. [29] He shared the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1976 with Michael Bennett, James Kirkwood, Nicholas Dante, and Edward Kleban for his musical contribution to the original Broadway production of A Chorus Line . [5]

Hamlisch received a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009 at the World Soundtrack Awards in Ghent, Belgium. He was also inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2008. [30] In 2008, he appeared as a judge in the Canadian reality series Triple Sensation which aired on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. The show was aimed to provide a training bursary to a talented young man or woman with the potential to be a leader in song, dance, and acting. [31] [32] In 2008, Hamlisch was also inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame. [33]

Pulitzer Prize

Academy Awards

Personal life

In May 1989, Hamlisch married Terre Blair, a native of Columbus, Ohio, who was the weather and news anchor for that city's ABC affiliate, WSYX-Channel 6. [34] [35] [36] The marriage lasted until his death. [37] Hamlisch's prior relationship with lyricist Carole Bayer Sager inspired the musical They're Playing Our Song . [38]


After a brief illness, on August 6, 2012, Hamlisch collapsed and died in Los Angeles, California. [39]

The Associated Press described him as having written "some of the best-loved and most enduring songs and scores in movie history". [40] Barbra Streisand released a statement praising Hamlisch, stating it was "his brilliantly quick mind, his generosity and delicious sense of humor that made him a delight to be around." [5] Aretha Franklin called him "classic and one of a kind", and one of the "all-time great" arrangers and producers. [41] The head of the Pasadena Symphony and Pops commented that Hamlisch had "left a very specific ... original mark on American music and added to the great American songbook with works he himself composed." [42]

At 8:00 p.m. EDT on August 8, the marquee lights of the 40 Broadway theaters were dimmed for one minute in tribute to Hamlisch, [43] [44] an honor traditionally accorded posthumously to those considered to have made significant contributions to the theater arts. [45] [46] [47]

Barbra Streisand, Aretha Franklin, and Liza Minnelli took turns singing songs by Hamlisch during a memorial service for the composer on September 18, 2012. [48] At the 2013 Academy Awards, Streisand sang "The Way We Were" in Hamlisch's memory.

Material loss

On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Marvin Hamlisch among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire. [49]



Marvin Hamlisch at the piano, 2006 MarvinHamlischByPhilKonstantin1.jpg
Marvin Hamlisch at the piano, 2006

Hamlisch was the primary conductor for the Pittsburgh Pops from 1995 until his death. [50]

The Dallas Symphony Orchestra performed a rare Hamlisch classical symphonic suite titled Anatomy of Peace (Symphonic Suite in one Movement For Full Orchestra/Chorus/Child Vocal Soloist) on November 19, 1991. [51] It was also performed at Carnegie Hall in 1993, [52] and in Paris in 1994 to commemorate D-Day. [53] The work was recorded by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra in 1992. [54] The Anatomy of Peace was a book by Emery Reves which expressed the world-federalist sentiments shared by Albert Einstein and many others in the late 1940s, in the period immediately following World War II. [55]



See also

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Further reading