Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Remembering Marvin Hamlisch June 2, 1944 - August 6, 2012

Headlines in the New York Times on August 7, 2012 read "Marvin Hamlisch, Whose Notes Struck Gold, Dies at 68

It is true, Marvin Hamlisch will go down in history as one of the greatest composers of all time.  Many of his songs reached the top of the charts during his illustrious career in music that included winning three Oscars, four Emmys, and four Grammy Awards.  He is of only a handful of artists to win every major award and some of them numerous times.

Marvin was born in Manhattan where he would spend many years of his life.  His parents were Jewish.    He grew up around music.  His dad was an accordionist and bandleader.  Marvin was a child prodigy.  By the age of 5, he began mimicking the piano music he heard on radio and before his 7th birthday, Marvin was accepted into the now, Julliard School Pre-College Division of music.

He began his music career at a very early age having been the rehearsal pianist for "Funny Girl" with Barbra Streisand.  He would often perform at parties for music producer Sam Spiegel that would eventually lead him to his first film score, "The Swimmer"  While many of us during that era listened to sixties music, Hamlisch had a love for musicals including his favorites of "My Fair Lady" "West Side Story" and "Bye Bye Birdie"   He would attend Queens College in NYC and earn his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1967.

At the age of 21, Hamlisch had his first major hit with his song "Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows" that was recorded by Leslie Gore.  During that time period, he also wrote music for several Woody Allen films including "Take the Money and Run" and "Bananas"  He also wrote another hit song for Leslie Gore called "California Nights"

Hamlisch wrote many of my favorite "movie songs" including the theme from "The Sting" called "The Entertainer" and the song from the motion picture "The Way We Were"  Other songs include  "Nobody Does It Better" for The Spy Who Loved Me and the scores from "Ordinary People" "Sophie's Choice" and "A Chorus Line"  At the time of his brief illness and death, he was working on the scores for "The Nutty Professor" and the HBO movie "Behind the Candelabra"

He was an accomplished conductor as well having been the principal conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Milwaukee Orchestra as well as San Diego, Buffalo, Dallas, Pasadena and Baltimore Orchestras.  He also held the position as musical director and arranger for Barbra Streisand's 1984 concert tour and conducted performances for singer, Linda Ronstadt.

On his personal side, Hamlisch was married to Terre Blair, a weather and news anchor for the Columbus, Ohio affiliate of ABC.

On August 6, 2012, Hamlisch, at the age of 68, died from respiratory arrest, having been ill for a very short period of time.  On August 8, Broadway dimmed their lights for one minute in honor him.

His funeral in the Temple Em-Manuel on 5th Avenue and among those who attended was columnist Liz Smith (who provided John with the lyrics) and the former President Bill Clinton and those who attended sang one of Hamlisch's songs "What I Did For Love"

 Kiss today goodbye.  The Sweetness and the sorrow. Wish me luck, the same to you. But I Can't Regret What I did for Love. What I did for Love.

Look, My eyes are dry.  The Gift was ours to borrow.  It's as if we always knew. And I won't forget What I did for love. What I did for love.

Gone. Love is never gone.  As we travel on. Love's What We'll Remember.

Kiss today goodbye, And point me t'ward tomorrow. We did What We had to do.  Won't forget, can't regret What I did for love, What I did for love, What I did for love.

A tribute to Marvin Hamlisch was held on Tuesday, September 18, 2012 in the Peter Jay Sharp Theater at The Juilliard School, Lincoln Center, New York that included performances by Aretha Franklin, Barbra Streisand, Liza Minnelli, and Itzhak Perlman to name a few.

Marvin was laid to rest in the Mount Zion Cemetery in New York.

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