Friday, August 9, 2013

Marvin Hamlisch--The Entertainer (1974)

     This past Tuesday (Aug. 6), we marked the first anniversary of the death of one of our generations greatest composers. Marvin Hamlisch was on 68, but had a great impact on the world of musical theater. He won an Oscar, an Emmy, Grammy, Tony. He won a Pulizer prize in 1975 (for "A Chorus Line") and is only one of two (composer Richard Rogers being the other) to have won all five of those awards. His listing of songwriting credits in a more pop vein is impressive as well. He won an Oscar for, "The Way we Were" in 1974, and was nominated in 1977 for, "Nobody Does It Better" and in 1980 for, "Through the Eyes of Love".
     Hamlisch, who was born in Manhattan, was a child prodigy who at the age of seven had been accepted into the Juilliard Pre-College school. His first hit was a song he co-wrote with Howard Liebling at the age of 21. "Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows" was a hit in 1965 for Lesley Gore. This began to open other doors including being the rehearsal pianist for "Funny Girl" which began a long association with  Barbara Streisand. This job led him to score the music for the film, "The Swimmer" in 1968.
     He did a number of movie scores but was not known world-wide until 1974. It was this year where, "The Way We Were" and "The Sting" both were released. We mentioned Hamlisch's involvement with the Streisand/Redford movie, but what got him on the map on the charts as an artist was from the latter movie.
     "The Sting", a movie starring Robert Redford (who had quite a 1974 as well), and Paul Newman. The movie did well enough at the box office, but what made it stand out was it's period piece music. Hamlisch had written several songs for the movie, but seven of the songs were written by the great Ragtime composer/performer, Scott Joplin. The song not only reached number three on the charts, it sparked a renaissance of Ragtime music in general, and of Joplin's work specifically.  



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