Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Marvin Hamlisch

So sad to hear that film and stage composer, Marvin Hamlisch passed away today at the relatively early age of 68. We're losing so many wonderful, talented folks this year, and I guess many more entertainers from my youth are at that age where they'll be bidding us farewell in the near future.

I was first aware of Marvin Hamlisch when the Paul Newman/Robert Redford film, The Sting premiered back in 1973. Marvin didn't actually compose the music for that particular film, but he adapted the ragtime songs of Scott Joplin into a highly appealing score. Coincidentally, I'd just watched the blu-ray of The Sting last week, after having not seen the film in many years, and it was as entertaining a caper as I remembered it to be.

Hamlisch composed many film scores, such as The Way We Were and Sophie's Choice, yet was perhaps even more renowned for his stage work, especially the now iconic musical, A Chorus Line, which probably inspired many a music theatre student over the years. He also worked as a conductor and arranger for such notable song stylists as Barbra Streisand and Liza Minnelli. From the TV of my youth, I recall many times seeing Marvin Hamlisch on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, as well as the various daytime talk shows hosted by the likes of Mike Douglas, Merv Griffin and Dinah Shore. He would always play samples of his music on these shows, back when one could actually hear real music on TV, before everything turned to rubbish in the 90s (about the time Carson retired and Jay Leno took over). His affable, "nerdy" persona was always a delightful addition to any show he appeared on.

With the loss of Marvin Hamlisch, there is one less great composer to create movie magic, although the number of great film composers being steadily utilized has been declining steadily for years now. Only John Williams (and mostly due to Spielberg) and a handful of others seem to get regular work these days. Unfortunately, Hollywood prefers to throw a bunch of inane pop/rock tunes together and call it a film soundtrack, rather than hire a real composer to create an evocative music score. Anyway, I'm real sorry to see Marvin Hamlisch leave us, as they sure don't make them like that anymore.

Here's an interesting little piece where Marvin describes the process of what led to his song, The Way We Were:

1 comment:

Mia S. Howard said...

Glad I came across your blog. Love all the helpful info. Am a trained Illustrator who may soon be entering the culinary arts. I am working on a pet animation project on the side. Love your Hamlisch caricature. My late father, a brilliant Broadway pianist and arranger, worked with him at one point, and he was a great talent indeed. Again, wonderful work.
All the best