(Updated-3) BREAKING NEWS: Pasadena Pops conductor Marvin Hamlisch dies at age 68

By Robert D. Thomas

Music Critic

Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily
News

(Updated to include quotes from Victor Vener and Rachael Worby)

 

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Marvin Hamlisch, Academy Award-winning film score and
Broadway composer and principal conductor of the Pasadena Pops Orchestra, died
yesterday at the age of 68.

 

Hamlisch was one of just 12 people to have won for his music
Oscars (three of them, in fact), Emmys (four), Grammys (four) and a Tony Award.
He also is one of two composers to have swept those four categories plus earned
a Pulitzer Prize (the other is Richard Rodgers).

 

In recent years, Hamlisch became equally renowned for his
work as a pops orchestra conductor. He began this new phase of his life 18
years ago as principal pops conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony. Last summer
he took over as principal conductor of the Pasadena Pops and served in a
similar capacity with the Milwaukee, Dallas, Seattle and San Diego Symphonies.
A link to a story I wrote prior to his first Pasadena Pops concert last year is
HERE.

 

Melinda Shea, president of the Pasadena Symphony (parent of
both the Pasadena Pops and Pasadena Symphony) released the following statement
this morning:

 

“The Pasadena Symphony and Pops are both shocked and
devastated to learn about Marvin Hamlisch’s sudden passing. Our thoughts and
prayers are with his wife Terre, his family, and his friends and colleagues.

 

“During his time in Pasadena, he was beloved in our
community and made an enormous impact with everyone he encountered. He brought
a tireless humor and enthusiasm to the stage, and was loved by our audience,
musicians, and staff. Marvin propelled the Pasadena Pops into a new and
successful era, guided by his contributions to the Great American Songbook, carrying on the legacies of Richard Rogers
and George Gershwin. His was a giant in American music and a true national
treasure.

 

“Marvin was here when we needed him with his vision and
artistic guidance. He was a great friend and his music leaves an unforgettable
legacy to the world. Marvin was a remarkable person and an incredible talent
who will be dearly missed.”

 

Victor Vener, music director of the California Philharmonic
Orchestra, said this morning: “I, along with millions of people around the
world, am shocked and saddened by the news of the untimely passing yesterday of
the highly-respected and decorated Marvin Hamlisch.  It is tragic and we
at Cal Phil are grieving the loss of the remarkable and talented composer who
left an indelible mark in the industry … but more than that, in the lives of
everyone, everywhere, who experienced the power and brilliance of his music and
lyrics over the decades. Marvin undeniably leaves a legacy that will forever
live through his music and in our hearts.”

 

Rachael Worby, who preceded Hamlisch as the Pops principal
conductor and now leads her ensemble Muse-ique, said from Quebec where she is
preparing to conduct a concert, “I’m absolutely devastated. Marvin was a bright
light, a true genius. He was also an amazing human being with all the best
instincts. I bet that when ‘Curiosity,’ JPL’s rover, finally discovers life on
Mars, it will discover a little bit of Marvin Hamlisch, for whom all music was
certainly of the entire universe. He was, indeed, one singular sensation.”

Hamlisch’s Broadway credits included the music for A Chorus Line, which received the
Pulitzer Prize, as well as They’re Playing
Our Song, The Goodbye Girl
and Sweet
Smell of Success.
Earlier this summer, what turned out to be Hamlisch’s
final concert with the Pasadena Pops included selections from They’re Playing Our Song, starring
Robert Klein and Lucie Arnaz, reprising the roles they inaugurated in 1978 when
the musical opened at the Ahmanson Theatre and then moved on to Broadway, where
it ran for 1,082 performances.

 

Hamlisch’s latest musical, The Nutty Professor, based on the movie that starred Jerry Lewis,
had recently opened in Nashville.

 

Hamlisch was the composer of more than 40 motion picture
scores including his Oscar-winning score and song for The Way We Were and his adaptation of Scott Joplin’s music for The Sting, for which he received a third
Oscar. His prolific output of scores for films include original compositions
and/or musical adaptations for Sophie’s
Choice, Ordinary People, The Swimmer, Three Men and a Baby, Ice Castles, Take
the Money and Run, Bananas, Save the Tiger,
and his latest effort The Informant!, starring Matt Damon and
directed by Steven Soderbergh.

 

A story from the New
York Times
is HERE.

_______________________

 

(c) Copyright 2012, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved.
Portions may be quoted with attribution.