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Award-Winning Composer Marvin Hamlisch Dies

  • VOA News

Marvin Hamlisch performs at the Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors Gala at The Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, November 8, 2011.

Marvin Hamlisch performs at the Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors Gala at The Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, November 8, 2011.

The American composer and conductor Marvin Hamlisch, who composed the music for great films and Broadway musicals, has died.

Hamlisch's music touched lives around the world and won him three Oscars, four Grammys, four Emmys, a Tony, and three Golden Globe awards. He won multiple awards for his score of the groundbreaking show A Chorus Line. That musical also won a Pulitzer Prize. He worked with a number of American stars, including Barbra Streisand and Aretha Franklin.

He composed more than 40 motion picture scores, including the Oscar-winning score and song for The Way We Were and his adaptation of Scott Joplin’s ragtime music for The Sting, which provided his third Oscar.

One of his last performances was on July 13, at the Wolf Trap Performing Arts center outside Washington. Hamlisch performed with Broadway singer Melissa Errico, in an evening of George Gershwin tunes. Errico said she cherishes the experience.

“It was the greatest artistic experiences of my life, not to mention the amount of laughter we got out of the audience, which is so Marvin to do a serious job with music but to be super silly. That’s Marvin. He likes to have a good time and turn the corner and do incredible music,” she said.

Watch video of Hamlish playing the piano

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Hamlisch was the principal pops conductor for several U.S. orchestras, including the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Pasadena Symphony and Pops and The San Diego Symphony. He's considered one of the most versatile modern composers, with works from Broadway hits to classical compositions and rhythm and blues hits.

“[He] is someone who knows how to take classical music, historical music, theater music, jazz music, stuff that some people would say is not popular anymore and bring it to life and make it fun and funny," said Errico. "He believes that a pops concert should feel, not serious, not feel like you’re going back in time, but that it’s happening right now. There is no one in the world like him, I cannot articulate this loss.”

Hamlisch, 68, died on Monday, his family said Tuesday.

He was a graduate of the Julliard School of Music and Queens College. He often spoke of music's universal appeal. On his Web site, he wrote, “There is a global nature to music, which has the potential to bring all people together."
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