Marvin Hamlisch


June 2, 1944 – August 6, 2012

From SCL President Dan Foliart:

It was with great shock and sadness that I learned of the passing of one of the true icons of our profession this morning. Marvin Hamlisch exemplified what was possible if you dreamed big enough and worked hard enough.  Many of us in the SCL were fortunate to witness Marvin first hand when we screened The Informant! a few years back. As the moderator, my job was seamless, as his wit, charm and interaction with long time collaborators Alan and Marilyn Bergman totally entertained our audience that night. In fact, it was in his acceptance of his third academy award in 1974 for the his adaptation of Scott Joplin’s “The Entertainer” for the movie, The Sting that his humor became legendary as he told the Academy audience that he could now address them as friends. And he truly did it all. A Chorus Line continues to stand as a seminal work in the theatre, his beautifully executed scores to so many films such as Sophie’s Choice will forever stand as classics and his songs, notably, “The Way We Were” with Alan and Marilyn Bergman, and “Nobody Does it Better” with Carole Bayer Sager will forever be part of of our collective memory. He continued to entertain audiences as music director of many pop orchestras around the country. In saying good-bye, the word that comes to my mind in reflecting on his life and achievements is… amazing.



The SCL featured Marvin Hamlisch in an interview in the Summer 2010 issue of The Score, which can be found here on the SCL site. Here is an excerpt from that interview by SCL Board Members Lori Barth and Adryan Russ:

As a composer, Marvin Hamlisch has won nearly every major award that exists: three Oscars, four Grammys, four Emmys, a Tony and three Golden Globe awards. The groundbreaking show, A Chorus Line, for which he wrote music, received the Pulitzer Prize. He is the composer of more than 40 motion picture scores including his Oscar-winning score and song for The Way We Were, and his adaptation of Scott Joplin’s music for The Sting, for which he received a third Oscar. His prolific output of scores for films includes original compositions and/or musical adaptations for Sophie’s Choice, Ordinary People, The Swimmer, Three Men And A Baby, Ice Castles, Take The Money And Run, Bananas, Save The Tiger, and his latest, The Informant, starring Matt Damon, directed by Steven Soderbergh, which he recently screened for The SCL and graciously attended with Alan and Marilyn Bergman for a pre-screening interview. Mr. Hamlisch holds the position of principal pops conductor for the National Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Seattle Symphony and San Diego Symphony. He was musical director and arranger of Barbra Streisand’s 1994 concert tour through the U.S. and England as well as of the television special, Barbra Streisand: The Concert (for which he received two of his Emmys).

Score: You were accepted into Juilliard at age seven. How did that influence your outlook on music and what was that like at such a young age?

Marvin: Well, the reason I was accepted was that I had a very good ear, and Juilliard took me based on that. They didn’t realize that what they were going to teach me wasn’t exactly what I was interested in. So one day I said to my father, “Why is Juilliard trying to make me into the next Horowitz when I want to be the next Richard Rodgers?” He had a great answer: “Since you want to write music, it’s important that when you play your music, you play it well so it doesn’t sound terrible. That’s why you should learn to play the piano—so you can play your music well.” It was a perfectly good answer so I stayed at Juilliard. What that school did for me was simply make me into a very good musician. Though I didn’t become the next Horowitz, I took all I learned and became a well-rounded musician who could do a lot of things. They made me a thinking musician. I will always be grateful to them for that.


Most recently Mr. Hamlisch was scheduled to conduct for the Pasadena Symphony and Pops Orchestra.  He was also scheduled to conduct the New York Philharmonic on News Years Eve 2013.

Pasadena Symphony Orchestra and Pops

Los Angeles Times,0,5202065.story

Los Angeles Times:  Remembered by collaborators,0,5979285.story

New York Times

Film Music Society