Friday, June 01, 2012

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Marvin Hamlisch

Artist:Marvin Hamlisch
Song:The Entertainer
Album:The Sting: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Marvin Hamlisch has been a film, TV and stage musical composer since the 60s. He had his only hit single with his adaptation of the Scott Joplin composition The Entertainer from the 1974 hit film The Sting. He was born June 2, 1944 in New York City. His father was a bandleader and played the accordion. Hamlisch was a child prodigy pianist who had the talent to be a concert pianist but he suffered from stage fright. So he studied composition at Juilliard and Queens College. Liza Minnelli recorded his song Travelin' Man on her debut album. And then his song Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows was a big hit for Lesley Gore in 1965. Minnelli got him a job arranging the Broadway show Funny Girl. This led to other stage work. He got into films when he was at a party and he overheard producer Sam Spiegel saying that he needed music for the 1968 film The Swimmer starring Burt Lancaster. That was Hamlisch's first score. He scored Take The Money and Run, Bananas, Save The Tiger and was nominated for an Oscar in 1971 for his song Life Is What You Make It from Kotch. He also wrote the music for The Marx Brothers musical Minnie's Boys. Then Hamlisch had his biggest success with the 1973 film The Way We Were and then the 1974 film The Sting. The single The Way We Were was a big hit for Barbra Streisand and Hamlisch won a Best Original Song Oscar. Most of the score for The Sting was Hamlisch adapting the ragtime music of Scott Joplin despite the fact that the film was set in the 30s and ragtime wasn't popular in that era. There had been revived interest in Joplin's music through the recordings of pianist Joshua Rifkin and those recordings gave Hamlisch and music producer Gil Rodin the idea of using Joplin's music in The Sting. The Entertainer was the theme of the film and it reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and he also won a Best Original Song Score And/Or Adaptation Oscar. They don't give Oscars for adapted scores anymore. At the time Hamlisch was criticized for exploiting Joplin but the success of The Sting generated even more interest in Joplin's music. So I think it was a good thing. Hamlisch also won a Tony and a Pulitzer for his music for the Broadway musical A Chorus Line. He has also won Emmys and Grammys and is one of only two people to win those awards and a Puilitzer. The other is Richard Rodgers. The Sting soundtrack is available as a budget CD. With his then wife Carole Bayer Sager, Hamlisch wrote Nobody Does It Better for the 1977 film The Spy Who Loved Me. It was a hit for Carly Simon. Hamlisch married Columbus, OH TV anchor Terre Blair in 1989. He still composes music for films, most recently for the 2009 film The Informant. He seems to do a lot of guest conducting of symphony orchestras. But I'm sure when his name comes up, most folks think of The Entertainer. Here's the video for The Entertainer by Marvin Hamlisch with scenes from The Sting.

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