'Sting' and 'Chorus Line' composer dies at age of 68


NEW YORK – Marvin Hamlisch, the American composer who wrote the scores for dozens of films and a half-dozen or so Broadway shows and who won Oscars, Emmys, Grammys, a Tony and a Pulitzer Prize, has died in Los Angeles. He was 68.

The musical creative force behind the films The Sting and The Way We Were, for which he won a total of three Oscars, Hamlisch collapsed after a brief illness and died on Monday, a family spokesman said in a statement.

In a 2010 interview he told website Broadway World that in writing The Way We Were he was trying to match “a very yin-yang sort of movie”.

“I wanted to write something that was uplifting and positive; on the other hand, there is a tremendous amount of bittersweetness to that film – and bittersweet romance – so it’s a real duality. And that’s why I think the song – though it’s in the major mode – is quite sad,” he said.

The New York-born composer was raised by Jewish parents and showed an early ability to mimic music as a young child. He started out his professional career as a rehearsal pianist for Funny Girl, beginning a long history of working with Barbara Streisand.

He once said Streisand “has the best voice there is”. His collaborations with her included his role as the musical director and arranger of her 1994 US concert tour, for which he won two Emmy Awards.

Hamlisch also wrote the score for Streisand’s 1996 film, The Mirror has Two Faces, for which he earned an Oscar nomination for Streisand and Bryan Adams’ duet, I’ve Finally Found Someone.

Hamlisch’s other film scores notably included Sophie’s Choice and Ordinary People. He co-wrote the ballad Nobody Does it Better for the 1977 James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me.

Starting with 1969 film The Swimmer, Hamlisch scored films for the next several decades, including Woody Allen’s Take the Money and Run and Bananas, Save the Tiger and Ice Castles, right up to Steven Soderbergh’s The Informant! in 2009. He had lately been writing the score for a new Soderbergh film based on the life of pianist Liberace.

On Broadway, he won a Tony award and a Pulitzer Prize for drama for the 1975 musical A Chorus Line.

He also wrote the scores for the Broadway musicals They’re Playing Our Song (1978), The Goodbye Girl (1993) and Sweet Smell Of Success (2002).

Hamlisch won four Grammy Awards, including two for The Way We Were. He earned the rare distinction of winning Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards – and had said he believed in the power of music to connect people.

“Music can make a difference. There is a global nature to music, which has the potential to bring all people together,” he said on his official website.

Press representatives said he was scheduled to leave for Nashville later this week to see the Jerry Lewis stage-adapted comedy, The Nutty Professor, for which he wrote the score. He had also been working on a new Broadway musical called Gotta Dance.

At the time of his death, Hamlisch held the position of principal pops conductor for several symphony orchestras across the US and was scheduled to conduct the New York Philharmonic in this year’s New Year’s Eve concert.

He is survived by his wife of 25 years, Terre. – (Reuters)