Hearing a musical genius

Late last month, Marvin Hamlisch, on the piano, accompanied five time Grammy nominated singer Michael Feinstein in a musical tour of Broadway, Hollywood, and Tin Pan Alley. Rarely has such a talented duo graced the stage at the Kimmel Center. They performed songs from Hamlisch hits such as “Chorus Line,” “The Way We Were,” and “The Sting.”

With the exception of Richard Rodgers of Rodgers and Hammerstein fame, Marvin Hamlisch, a prolific composer, is the only person in the world to have all the major performing arts awards- Oscar, Emmy, Tony, Grammy, and Pulitzer. In addition, Hamlisch won two Golden Globes.

The public listens to his music all the time without realizing it. If you love a movie, Hamlisch probably composed the score. His movie credits include “The Spy Who Loved Me,” “Frankie and Johnny,” and “Ordinary People.” Hamlisch also wrote the score for “Theme for Peabody” for the “David Letterman Show.”

Hamlisch has garnered two Emmy wins for his work as a musical director for Barbra Streisand. He says, “Barbra is brilliant. Her great instincts are spot on. Our collaboration works because two people who know what they are doing are working together.”

Hamlisch, who recently wrote the music for “The Informant” starring Matt Damon, described how he got that job. “The director Steve Sonderbergh really enjoyed the score from Woody Allen’s “Bananas.” It apparently stuck with him all these years. He said get me the guy who did that,” said Hamlisch.

“When I am asked to write a score, I see the movie and feel for the characters and what they are doing on the screen. Other people will talk about their feelings in English. I will talk about them in the language of music,” said Hamlisch in an attempt to explain his process.

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