Oscar winning composer Marvin Hamlisch dies at 68

Last Updated: Wed, Aug 08, 2012 09:30 hrs

Celebrated composer and conductor, Marvin Hamlisch, died in Los Angeles on Monday. He was 68.

Family spokesman Jason Lee said that the musician, who wrote the scores for films and shows including The Sting and A Chorus Line, died on Monday after a brief illness.

Hamlisch wrote more than 40 film scores including his Oscar-winning score and title song for 'The Way We Were'.

In his career he won three Academy Awards, four Emmys, a Tony and three Golden Globes.

His publicist said that he was scheduled to fly to Nashville, Tennessee, this week to see a production of his latest hit musical, 'The Nutty Professor'.

He was also working on a new musical, Gotta Dance, at the time of his death and was scheduled to write the score for a new film about Liberace, Behind the Candelabra.

Hamlisch's scores for Broadway included 'A Chorus Line', which was honoured with the Pulitzer Prize, as well as 'They're Playing Our Song', 'The Goodbye Girl' and 'Sweet Smell of Success'.

The organisers of the Tony awards paid tribute to Hamlisch and writer Mark O'Donnell - who has also died aged 58: "We've lost two greats: Tony-winners Marvin Hamlisch (composer of A Chorus Line) and Mark O'Donnell (Hairspray co-librettist). Rest in peace," the BBC reported.

Most recently, he worked on 2009's The Informant! starring Matt Damon and directed by Steven Soderbergh.

The music for romantic drama The Way We Were (1973), which starred Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford, won Hamlisch Oscars for best original dramatic score and best original song.

His adaptation of Scott Joplin's music for 'The Sting' got him a third Oscar.

He also co-wrote the lyrics of the hit song 'Nobody Does it Better', sung by Carly Simon, for the 1977 James Bond film 'The Spy Who Loved Me', as well as Aretha Franklin's R 'n' B hit 'Break It to Me Gently'.

"He was classic and one of a kind," Franklin said on Tuesday.

"Who will ever forget 'The Way We Were'?" he said.

Hamlisch was a graduate of New York's famous Juilliard School of Music and Queens College, where he earned a Bachelors degree of Arts.

His interest in music started early. He entered Juilliard at the age of seven. In his autobiography, 'The Way I Was', Hamlisch said he constantly lived in fear of not coming up to his father's expectations.

"By the time Gershwin was your age, he was dead," the Viennese-born musician told his son.

"And he'd written a concerto. Where's your concerto, Marvin?" his father had asked him.

In his teenage years, Hamlisch turned from recitals to songwriting. An early job in the theatre was as a rehearsal pianist for the Broadway production of Funny Girl with Barbra Streisand in 1964.

Hamlisch was principal pops conductor for symphony orchestras in Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Dallas, Pasadena, Seattle and San Diego.

The Dallas Symphony Orchestra said on Twitter: "We are shocked and saddened at the passing of our Principal Pops conductor, Marvin Hamlisch. We send our deepest condolences to his family.

"Hamlisch was a great musician and composer who in many ways revolutionized film, theater and popular song. He was a wonderful colleague," the tweet read.

He was to be announced to the same position with the Philadelphia Orchestra and was scheduled to lead the New York Philharmonic at its New Year's Eve concert.

Hamlisch is survived by his wife of 25 years, Terre. (ANI)

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