Marvin Hamlisch, Music, and Arts Education

 

Composer Marvin Hamlisch, whose popular songs for stage and screen were a vibrant part the 1970s, has gone to the great piano bar in the sky.  He scored The Sting,adapting the music of Scott Joplin, and was responsible for the music in groundbreaking A Chorus Line which is so iconic it is part of the dancing waters show at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. The Spy Who Loved Me and Leslie Gore’s Sunshine Lollipops and Rainbows were also among his hits, and he recently finished the score for Behind the Candelabra, the HBO Liberace biopic which will star Michael Douglas as Liberace and Matt Damon as his lover Scott Thorson.

Hamlisch also traveled to promote music in the schools, and criticized cuts in arts education:

I don’t think the American government gets it. I don’t think they understand it’s as important as math and science. It rounds you out as a person. I think it gives you a love of certain things. You don’t have to become the next great composer. It’s just nice to have heard certain things or to have seen certain things. It’s part of being a human being.

Do Hamlisch’s songs bring up any memories for you?

 

 

 

 

50 Responses to "Marvin Hamlisch, Music, and Arts Education"
Lisa Derrick | Tuesday August 7, 2012 08:01 pm 1

happy tuesday!


Petrocelli | Tuesday August 7, 2012 08:05 pm 2

Marvin is one of the greats ! What priceless memories …

Lisa !


DrDick | Tuesday August 7, 2012 08:06 pm 3

Lisa!

Not a show tunes kind of guy I am afraid, though I do remember a lot of the music you mention.


eCAHNomics | Tuesday August 7, 2012 08:07 pm 4

Michael Bennett was a year or 2 ahead of me at HS. The name of the school was Bennett HS, Bennett’s surname was originally DiFiglia.

When I finally got around to seeing Chorus Line, it bore striking resemblance to our HS variety shows.


Margaret | Tuesday August 7, 2012 08:07 pm 5

Lisa!
My mom was the biggest fan of musical scores on the planet, so a lot of his songs remind me of her. Add to that the fact that he was in his heyday when I was in my teens and yep! Those bring up a flood of memories.


Kelly Canfield | Tuesday August 7, 2012 08:12 pm 6

Lisa! I was sure it would be Marvin or Pussy Riot you’d write about next.

Hello Hamlisch! Bye Marvin – ya left a bunch a goodies, and good on you.

He was the youngest student at Julliard at the time you know. He was 7 when admitted.


DrDick | Tuesday August 7, 2012 08:12 pm 7
In response to Margaret @ 5

They really do resonate with my youth, as well, though I am a bit older.


EvilDrPuma | Tuesday August 7, 2012 08:14 pm 8

I was surprised to learn that Hamlisch was only 68. It seemed to me as if he had been around a lot longer than that. The score for The Sting was his third Oscar, and he must only have been 28 or so when he did the work! Pretty impressive.


Kelly Canfield | Tuesday August 7, 2012 08:16 pm 9

You know there’s a composer joke in “One”.

The word “one” is on the the major 7th, never actually one the interval “1″.

Heh – he was a clever duck.


Margaret | Tuesday August 7, 2012 08:18 pm 10
In response to EvilDrPuma @ 8

I was surprised to learn that Hamlisch was only 68

Right? That astonished me too!


eCAHNomics | Tuesday August 7, 2012 08:21 pm 11
In response to EvilDrPuma @ 8

I was surprised he was so young too.

OTOH Michael Bennett who Hamlisch worked with on Chorus Line was only 44 when he died. Given what I saw in HS, both his talents and his drive to exercise them was already apparent. I suspect Hamlisch was similar in that regard.


eCAHNomics | Tuesday August 7, 2012 08:28 pm 12

BTW, Hamlisch & Bennett would have been the same age as each other when they worked together, around 33.


Lisa Derrick | Tuesday August 7, 2012 08:28 pm 13
In response to Kelly Canfield @ 9

THAT IS COOL!


Teddy Partridge | Tuesday August 7, 2012 08:31 pm 14

This trailer brings back LOTS of memories, because The Way We Were’s college scenes were filmed my freshman year at Williams, and Robert Redford’s crew scenes were filmed in my boat; he sat in my seat in the 8-man and held my oar. And that movie was simply iconic of its time and place in so many ways.


DrDick | Tuesday August 7, 2012 08:33 pm 15
In response to Teddy Partridge @ 14

Way cool! Now we can all play three (or is it two?) degrees of Robert Redford.


Teddy Partridge | Tuesday August 7, 2012 08:35 pm 16
In response to DrDick @ 15

… and Barbra.

Actually, she was much less seen around campus, I think her campus scenes were filmed elsewhere.

The pairing of those two really was portrayed well in the trailer, it was a BIG deal in the early 1970s, they were both at their peak.


EvilDrPuma | Tuesday August 7, 2012 08:35 pm 17
In response to DrDick @ 15

It’s gonna take more than three degrees to get from me to Robert Redford. (But you can get from me to Iggy Pop by two discrete paths.)


DrDick | Tuesday August 7, 2012 08:37 pm 18
In response to Teddy Partridge @ 16

Redford was definitely one of my favorite actors during that period and I saw several Streisand films as well.


DrDick | Tuesday August 7, 2012 08:42 pm 19
In response to EvilDrPuma @ 17

Teddy is our link now, so it is easy. My only links to fame were when I moonlighted house manager at a live theater theater in Chicago. I met and escorted Neil Simon and Steve Martin to their seats, I also met Camille Cosby (Bill’s wife) and a few other celebs there. I also almost threw Penny Pritzger out of the theater for throwing a screaming tantrum that would embarrass a 4 year old in the lobby.


AitchD | Tuesday August 7, 2012 08:45 pm 20

Thank you, Lisa for your tribute to one of our time’s greatest popular artists. Marvin Hamlisch seems always to have been a reluctant musical genius. When he accepted the Academy Award for The Sting, he said the Oscar belonged to Scott Joplin.

Joplin had been forgotten in American popular/classical/jazz music — there was no entry for him in the 1950 edition of the World Book Encyclopedia, and for Ragtime, its entry mentioned Irving Berlin’s Alexander’s Ragtime Band (huh?) — until Joshua Rifkin’s 3-record series of Joplin’s piano rags were published beginning in 1970. Marvin heard those, of course, and also the first complete collection of Joplin’s recordings released in 1968 by pianist and archivist Mary Charters, who isn’t known for that at all, but more as Jack Kerouac’s biographer and publisher of his letters, and for her long tenure as a professor of literature at the University of Connecticut. She’s also a great keeper and curator of our valuable culture.

When A Chorus Line had become the longest-running show on Broadway, Marvin noted that “the best Broadway show was West Side Story” and pointed out that it ran only some 18 months (when he was a teen).

I saw Marvin when he directed the Pittsburgh Pops seasons, when his guests were the great film director Stanley Dolen for one show, and Burt Bacharach for another. Marvin I don’t remember so much because of his humility. Also because of him, I have some 23 CD’s of Scott Joplin’s rags. And he’s right about West Side Story.

And thanks again, Lisa.


EvilDrPuma | Tuesday August 7, 2012 08:46 pm 21
In response to DrDick @ 19

I was once almost blindsided by local Des Moines children’s show host Duane Elliott (driving the Floppymobile, no less). Not exactly a brush with greatness, but I like to tell the story.


AitchD | Tuesday August 7, 2012 08:49 pm 22
In response to Teddy Partridge @ 14

I also got a boat anecdote: I worked one summer doing general construction (building a mall) for the guy who owned the yacht that Gary Hart was photographed on with his campaign crusher on his lap.


eCAHNomics | Tuesday August 7, 2012 08:51 pm 23
In response to AitchD @ 20

Love Joplin. Never realized that he wasn’t responsible for the music to Sting.


AitchD | Tuesday August 7, 2012 08:53 pm 24
In response to eCAHNomics @ 23

Joplin loved Sousa and it was mutual.


EvilDrPuma | Tuesday August 7, 2012 08:54 pm 25
In response to eCAHNomics @ 23

In a real way, he was, of course; but Hamlisch did a bangup job with the arranging and conducting.


Lisa Derrick | Tuesday August 7, 2012 08:56 pm 26
In response to eCAHNomics @ 23

Hamlisch used Joplin to score The Sting, he arranged the music and restructured it etc.


eCAHNomics | Tuesday August 7, 2012 08:57 pm 27
In response to AitchD @ 24

Didn’t know that.

Sousa, not so much for me. Have to think about the relationship of the music, though.

I’m playing every CD I own with eye to deaquisitioning as many as possible. Haven’t gotten to Sting sound track yet.


Teddy Partridge | Tuesday August 7, 2012 08:58 pm 28

When The Sting came out, it was as if an entire era of American music had been re-introduced to American audiences, and Marvin was responsible for that. We heard it as if new, because so many of us had never heard it at all before.


eCAHNomics | Tuesday August 7, 2012 08:59 pm 29
In response to AitchD @ 20

It was funny, given my ships-pass-in-the-night acquaintance with Bennett, that I didn’t see Chorus Line until it was on Bway for a decade or more. Made a soft spot when I finally did go see it.


EvilDrPuma | Tuesday August 7, 2012 09:00 pm 30

I’m going to wander off. Peace out, y’all!


DrDick | Tuesday August 7, 2012 09:02 pm 31
In response to EvilDrPuma @ 30

Night! Time for me to toddle off as well. Take care all.


AitchD | Tuesday August 7, 2012 09:07 pm 32
In response to eCAHNomics @ 27

Musical ‘relationships’ are beautiful, they’re marriages without divorces and with endless progeny.

There’s a very close relationship between these historical facts: Joplin’s Maple Leaf Rag was the first million seller (sheet music), and Benny Goodman’s Columbia double LP in 1950 of his orchestra’s famous 1938 Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert (the first for that room) was the first million seller LP.


Kelly Canfield | Tuesday August 7, 2012 09:10 pm 33
In response to Teddy Partridge @ 28

Right. Cakewalk and Ragtime were “negro” music and really considered quite bawdy, until rehabilitated, so to say.

I just latched onto rag, and gospel, like you couldn’t believe back then.

I estimate I have prolly played the “Entertainer” and the “Maple Leaf” rags about 500-600 times each by 1990 at weddings or lounges, at least.


eCAHNomics | Tuesday August 7, 2012 09:12 pm 34
In response to AitchD @ 32

You gotta splain to me the relationship betw the music of Maple Leaf Rag & the music of Goodman’s CHJC.

I get the million bit, but was there a musicology bit?

I’m gonna go put on Sting soundtrack. Seems like the appropriate thing to do.


AitchD | Tuesday August 7, 2012 09:25 pm 35
In response to eCAHNomics @ 29

Saw A Chorus Line in Pittsburgh, it was lackluster like everything that came to Pgh., there must be an abiding prejudice. I mean, I walked out on Christopher Plummer and Glenda Jackson ‘practicing’ their Macbeth before taking it East. I wanted to walk out on George Carlin practicing for one of his last HBO shows.

But Marvin as the Pops director betrayed no such prejudice, only his extreme bias for wonderful popular music. (On the same stage as Andre Previn, Lorin Maazel, Mariss Jansons, and where I saw Isaac Stern and Richard Stoltzman).


eCAHNomics | Tuesday August 7, 2012 09:28 pm 36
In response to AitchD @ 32

Can’t find Sting, though I’m pretty sure I have it. Put on a Scott Joplin album which I did find.


eCAHNomics | Tuesday August 7, 2012 09:39 pm 37
In response to AitchD @ 35

You shoulda seen my HS variety shows!

2000 kids, what turned out to be inner city in years after I left. But in my day we had lots of talent (HS sort, but that’s just what we all loved, as we were all in HS). Mr. Kublitz was in charge of all the staged events, and, in retrospect, he must have had huge talent. I have no idea how Michael Bennett worked with him the couple years he was there (Bennett’s wiki says he

staged a number of shows in his local high school before dropping out to accept the role of Baby John in the US and European tours of West Side Story.

Clearly, though there was a synergy that we all benefited from with no idea how lucky we were.


AitchD | Tuesday August 7, 2012 09:44 pm 38
In response to eCAHNomics @ 34

BG was born when Joplin was still alive, he started playing professionally in dance ‘clubs’ by the time he was 13 — 1920′s — when everyone was still ragging, especially to the Maple Leaf. Fats Waller had recorded it (but much too fast and hot). The concert didn’t pay direct tribute to Joplin in its ‘history of jazz’ segment, but it played non-classical, non-Joplin Sensation Rag (hot) and Bix’s Joplin ripoff called I’m Coming Virginia, which contains that “eternal note of sadness” (Matthew Arnold) we hear in Puccini and which Joshua Rifkin notes about Joplin’s compositions. My ear hears Joplin’s structures in the Goodman Trio’s famous Body and Soul, and in the Quartet’s The Man I Love.


AitchD | Tuesday August 7, 2012 09:51 pm 39
In response to eCAHNomics @ 36

Which Joplin are playing?

Until recently YouTube had the complete Kenneth MacMillan Royal Ballet performance of Elite Syncopations w/ Darcey Bussell. I DL’d, ripped it and burned a DVD. Want one?


eCAHNomics | Tuesday August 7, 2012 09:54 pm 40
In response to AitchD @ 38

Wow. I’ve got a lot of listening to do after your explanation.

I respond to music mostly emotionally but have a strong intellectual bent toward whatever the subject is.

I’ll definitely track down the threads you weave together & thank you.


eCAHNomics | Tuesday August 7, 2012 09:59 pm 41
In response to AitchD @ 39

Playing this one.

Does a fish like water. Kenneth MacMillan, you betcha I want one!


Kelly Canfield | Tuesday August 7, 2012 09:59 pm 42

I love it when people who can’t actually play music come off as experts in…playing music, and music in general.

Endlessly fascinating to me.


ChristineEdmonson | Tuesday August 7, 2012 10:05 pm 43

What was the cause of death? Cancer?


eCAHNomics | Tuesday August 7, 2012 10:11 pm 44
In response to ChristineEdmonson @ 43

Details not released according to HuffPo, which seems like a particularly nice eulogy.


ChristineEdmonson | Tuesday August 7, 2012 10:14 pm 45
In response to eCAHNomics @ 44

Thanks, echan. Very sorry to lose Marvin.


AitchD | Tuesday August 7, 2012 10:14 pm 46

A wonderful collection. Unfortunately the CD tries to combine two LP’s and leaves out a few selections.

Hey, I hear a sonnet structure in the Benny Goodman/Peggy Lee recording of Where Or When.

I’ll email ya tomorrow…


AitchD | Tuesday August 7, 2012 10:17 pm 47

Get whelped and then bite me.


eCAHNomics | Tuesday August 7, 2012 10:30 pm 48
In response to AitchD @ 46

Thanks.


eCAHNomics | Tuesday August 7, 2012 10:34 pm 49
In response to AitchD @ 47

Heh.


prostratedragon | Tuesday August 7, 2012 10:57 pm 50

A favorite that I first heard in The Sting:

“Solace” by Scott Joplin, performed by Joshua Rifkin.


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