Composer Marvin Hamlisch dies in Los Angeles aged 68
Composer Marvin Hamlisch, who wrote the scores for films and shows including The Sting and A Chorus Line, has died in Los Angeles, aged 68.
Family spokesman Jason Lee said the musician died on Monday after a brief illness.
Marvin Hamlisch wrote more than 40 film scores including his Oscar-winning score and title song for The Way We Were.
In total he won three Academy Awards, four Emmys, a Tony and three Golden Globes.
His publicist said he had been scheduled to fly to Nashville, Tennessee, this week to see a production of his latest hit musical, The Nutty Professor.
Directed by Jerry Lewis, the show is based on the 1963 comedy film of the same name. It is due to transfer to Broadway.
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 about Liberace, Behind the Candelabra.
Starring Michael Douglas and Matt Damon, and directed by Steven Soderbergh, the HBO biopic is currently in production and is due out in 2013.
Marvin Hamlisch’s scores for Broadway included A Chorus Line, which received the Pulitzer Prize, as well as They’re Playing Our Song, The Goodbye Girl and Sweet Smell of Success.
The organizers of the Tony awards paid tribute to Marvin Hamlisch and writer Mark O’Donnell – who has also died aged 58: “We’ve lost two greats: Tony-winners Marvin Hamlisch (composer of A Chorus Line) & Mark O’Donnell (Hairspray co-librettist). Rest in peace.”
His prolific output for films included original compositions and musical adaptations for Sophie’s Choice, Ordinary People, The Swimmer and Three Men and a Baby.
He also scored early Woody Allen films Take the Money and Run and Bananas.
Most recently, he worked on 2009’s The Informant!, starring Matt Damon and directed by Steven Soderbergh.
“Music can make a difference,” Marvin Hamlisch is quoted as saying on his official website.
“There is a global nature to music, which has the potential to bring all people together. Music is truly an international language, and I hope to contribute by widening communication as much as I can.”
Romantic drama The Way We Were (1973), which starred Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford, won Marvin Hamlisch Oscars for best original dramatic score and best original song. His adaptation of Scott Joplin’s music for The Sting won him a third Oscar.
He also co-wrote the hit song Nobody Does it Better, sung by Carly Simon, for the 1977 James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me, as well as Aretha Franklin’s R&B hit Break It to Me Gently.
“He was classic and one of a kind,” Franklin told the Associated Press on Tuesday.
“Who will ever forget <<The Way We Were>>?”
Marvin Hamlisch was a graduate of New York’s Juilliard School of Music and Queens College, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree.
His interest in music started early. He entered Juilliard at the age of seven. In his autobiography, The Way I Was, Marvin Hamlisch said he lived in fear of not meeting his father’s expectations.
“By the time Gershwin was your age, he was dead,” the Viennese-born musician told his son.
“And he’d written a concerto. Where’s your concerto, Marvin?”
In his teenage years, Marvin Hamlisch turned from recitals to songwriting. An early job in the theatre was as a rehearsal pianist for the Broadway production of Funny Girl with Barbra Streisand in 1964.
“Maybe I’m old-fashioned,” he told the AP 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.”
Marvin Hamlisch was principal pops conductor for symphony orchestras in Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Dallas, Pasadena, Seattle and San Diego.
The Dallas Symphony Orchestra said on Twitter: “We are shocked and saddened at the passing of our Principal Pops conductor, Marvin Hamlisch. We send our deepest condolences to his family.
“Hamlisch was a great musician and composer who in many ways revolutionized film, theater and popular song. He was a wonderful colleague.”
He was to be announced to the same position with the Philadelphia Orchestra and was due to lead the New York Philharmonic at its New Year’s Eve concert.
Marvin Hamlisch is survived by his wife of 25 years, Terre.