Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Marvin Hamlisch, 1944-2012

Composer Marvin Hamlisch died yesterday evening after a short illness. He was 68. Hamlisch won three Oscars, all in 1973: he won the Original Score Oscar for The Way We Were, as well as winning the Original Song Oscar for the title song. (Remember, the Original Song Oscar goes to the songwriter(s), and not the singer.) The third was for music adaptation for The Sting. The Sting is a score that I always find interesting. The movie was set in 1930s Chicago, and when Hamlisch wrote the score, he came up nostalgic music. But the song we best remember from The Sting is Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer", a piano work which was composed -- in 1902! Who would have thought that you could depict the 1930s by using a song that was popular 30 years earlier? And yet, the use of Joplin's music in the movie works.

Hamlisch would be nominated quite a few more times over the course of his career, both for scores like Sophie's Choice, as well as individual songs like "Nobody Does It Better" from The Spy Who Loved Me. And Hamlisch also was busy doing much more than movies. Hamlisch did the score for the hit Broadway musical A Chorus Line, which won him both a Tony award and a Pulitzer Prize. (And when the musical was adapted into a movie, an original song for the movie was also nominated for an Oscar.)

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