I interviewed pianist/composer Marvin Hamlisch last year before his appearance with performer Michael Feinstein at the Kimmel Center. One day, I picked up the phone and Marvin was on the other line from California. He died today at the aged of 68. To honor his memory, I repeat the interview here.
On December 26, Marvin Hamlisch, on the piano, will accompany five time Grammy nominated singer Michael Feinstein in a musical tour of Broadway, Hollywood, and Tin Pan Alley. Rarely has such a talented duo graced the stage at the Kimmel Center. They will perform songs from Hamlisch hits such as “Chorus Line,” “The Way We Were,” and “The Sting.”
With the exception of Richard Rodgers of Rodgers and Hammerstein, Marvin Hamlisch is the only person in the world to have all the major performing arts awards- Oscar, Emmy, Tony,
Grammy, and Pulitzer. In addition, he has won two Golden Globes.
The public listens to his music all the time without realizing it. If you love a movie, Hamlisch probably composed the score. His movie credits include “The Spy Who Loved Me,” “Frankie and Johnny,” and “Ordinary People.” Hamlisch also wrote the score for “Theme for Peabody” for the “David Letterman Show.”
Hamlisch has garnered two Emmy wins for his work as a musical director for Barbra Streisand.
He says, “Barbra is brilliant. Her great instincts are spot on. Our collaboration works because it was two people working together who know what they are doing.”
Hamlisch, who recently wrote the music for “The Informant” starring Matt Damon, described how he got that job after not not composing movie themes for many years.
“The director Steve Sonderbergh really enjoyed the score from Woody Allen’s “Bananas,” he said. "It apparently stuck with him all these years. He said get me the guy who did that,” said Hamlisch.
Hamlisch, in an attempt to explain his composing process, said, “When I am asked to write a score, I see the movie and feel for the characters and what they are doing on the screen. Other people will talk about their feelings in English. I will talk about them in the language of music."
Thanks to Dafni Comerota of the Kimmel Center for arranging the interview.