Flashback: Melbourne, AU — The Inspiring Music of Marvin Hamlisch

How did you become a composer?

I started out very young; I went to the Juilliard School of music when I was 6 ½ years old, and  I knew very early on that I was not going to become the next Horowitz. What I wanted to be was the next Richard Rodgers; I wanted to be a writer, and slowly but surely I got to grab that goal. First I started out writing Rock and Roll and I had a couple of Rock and Roll hits, including “Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows” , with Lesley Gore. I wanted to write for the shows but no one was giving me any shows. One thing led to another and I got into the movie business and had the excitement of winning three Oscars in a row: two for The Way We Were and one for the adaptation of Scott Joplin’s music for The Sting. Then and only then did I finally get offered a job to actually write the music for a show and thankfully that became A Chorus Line.”


Watch Video: Lesley Gore. Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows:

How did you meet Barbra?

I met Barbra Streisand years ago because I was the rehearsal pianist for “Funny Girl”, the original show. And then, over the years, — it’s almost like every ten years- her path and my path coincided; for instance, ten years after that I did the music for The Way We Were, — of course that was sung by Barbra Streisand beautifully and of course she starred in the film with Robert Redford. We’ve been good friends ever since.”

Watch: Video: The Inspiring Music of Marvin Hamlisch:

In your program you include “Overture to A Chorus Line” —  but the Broadway Musical A Chorus Line does not have an overture. Can you explain?

When I was growing up there was this show called Gypsy, and Gypsy had this great overture, I always considered to be the best overture, and when I was writing A Chorus Line I was hoping to write an overture that we will use for the show. Well,  I wrote the overture but we never used it because we didn’t think it was right to have an overture in front of a show that supposedly takes place at an audition. So I like to include that overture in the program. It is wonderful to have the opportunity to do it with a full orchestra.

Can you comment about your performance? What to expect?

The way I always think about doing my show, either with an orchestra or just me at the piano, is almost as if you have been invited to my living room. The Style of the show and the mood of the show is hopefully to entertain, to play some great music – not all of it my own- other great composers:  Cole Porter, Scott Joplin, Gershwin… and then to add to all that mix some of the pieces that I am known for, and also to have some fun: We do a thing called “Rent –a- Composer” where I get titles from people in the audience and we make up songs on the spot; so basically is meant to be kind of a fun enjoyable evening and hopefully- people will bring their children, because I think kids today are not hearing this kind of music anymore, and I think it’s something wonderful for any child to be exposed to a large orchestra if they have the opportunity.”

He added: “It’s not every day that you get a chance to go  to a city  to perform. You not only enjoy the place, but you get a chance to do what you love doing: to create an evening of music. So I look forward with glee when I get the chance to do it.”

Source: Crawford Media, Melbourne, AU- July 2010.  Excerpts from interview with Marvin Hamlisch




  1. Marvin,
    When I yelled “atta boy, Dan” to the drummer at your Jan. 25th, 2009 show with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, you invited me to come onstage. I played “The Way We Were” on a borrowed trumpet. I want you to know the depth of my appreciation for your kindness and goodwill.…what FUN that was!

    I have one activity I would like to mention: I do a “request-driven program” at libraries and senior centers called “Big Band Memories.” People are given paper and pencil as they enter. The keyboard player is GOOD. I spread the request sheets on a table and we play a full chorus, no printed music is used. The audience is encouraged to Name That Tune.…I give them a thumbs up and we continue playing. My son often plays drums with us.
    Alan always says “Bill, tell the people about your Marvin Hamlisch experience.”

    I love sharing the memory and then playing The Way We Were.

    I am 70 years old, so I’m a bit older than you. But.…..my chops are better now than at anytime in my life, and I LOVE playing every day. I have been a regular for 11 years in one of Detroit’s busiest big bands, the Rhythm Society Orchestra.

    My wife Lidia and I enjoy reading about your successes and activities. In an interview, you made an excellent point that helped my Big Band Memories show: “Come out and play.….get it on the table that you’re a PLAYER.…let them hear and understand that for two or three songs.….THEN it’s okay to let the whimsy out.”

    My mother LOVED your work. She was a passionate piano player and often talked about the remarks you made on a Mike Douglas show.
    I really enjoyed your book “The Way I Was.” Mother, Bob, and I watched Groucho faithfully “You Bet Your Life.” How I wish I could have seen the two of you doing your schtick at the parties.

    Good for you…letting the hostess know “I’m not a piano player for parties!! “Lady, I am a composer…” (When you played for Spiegel)

    I hope you are HEALTHY!!!!!!!! I pray that you are strong and have lots of energy.
    I am a very very lucky and happy man. My 46 years of teaching math at Macomb Community College were good, and I entertain K-12 youngsters with a lighthearted math assembly, described at MATH WITH HART I play flugelhorn and trumpet as they are being seated.…instant friendship. My granddaughters LOVE your Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows. I remember Lesley Gore singing it. The girls know it from a movie “Rain with Chances of Meatballs” and the J C Penny ad that’s currently running.
    Marvin, a photo of the Detroit moment is on my home page for my Big Band Program MUSIC WITH HART
    — Audience members make it very very clear that they love your talent and contributions to our musical heritage. Keep it going Marvin. You will always be in our prayers. In friendship, Bill Hart. Rochester MI