The Way He Was: Remembering Marvin Hamlisch, the Man and the Music

By Robin Tabachnik
04 Jan 2013

Marvin Hamlisch
Marvin Hamlisch
Photo by Len Prince

One Singular Sensation, the New Year's Eve concert by the New York Philharmonic, celebrated composer Marvin Hamlisch's life and work. His memory and legacy live on. Joshua Bell, Raúl Esparza, Kelli O'Hara, Michael Feinstein, Audra McDonald and Maria Friedman reflect.


Like most of the artists and audience at the Dec. 31, 2012, New York Philharmonic concert celebrating the work of Marvin Hamlisch, I was in the midst of the day's activities when I learned of Marvin Hamlisch's death. When the initial shock wore off I realized that the interview I was looking forward to having with Marvin for this article was not going to happen. Instead, I would be prevailing upon his friends, protégés, and colleagues who were lucky enough to have known him longer and better than I so that I might write a very different article: a salute to one of America's greatest musicians.

Hamlisch, born in 1944 in Manhattan, attended the Professional Children's School, Juilliard, and Queens College, where he earned a bachelor of arts degree. In 1974 he hit an Academy Award trifecta, receiving three Oscars in one evening, for "The Sting" (Best Original Song Adaptation) and "The Way We Were" (Best Original Song and Best Original Dramatic Score). This achievement paved the way for his now legendary hit, A Chorus Line, which in turn earned him the Pulitzer Prize in 1976. At the time of his death last summer Marvin was about to add The Philadelphia Orchestra to the list of ensembles over which he presided as official pops conductor, and his musical theatre version of "The Nutty Professor," a collaboration with Jerry Lewis and the lyricist Rupert Holmes, was gaining momentum in out-of-town previews.

Hamlisch left a legacy that includes scores for more than 40 motion pictures, a string of Broadway shows, and the symphonic work, "Anatomy of Peace."


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