Happy Birthday Maestro Hamlisch! A letter from John Lithgow to Marvin Hamlisch. (6/2/1944 — 8/6/2012)

A letter from John Lithgow to Marvin Hamlisch — (Published 1 years ago, but It’s timeless…)



On his 72nd Birthday (6/2/2016) Terre Blair Hamlisch, Marvin’s widow wrote:

Terre Blair Hamlisch

Terre Blair Hamlisch

Happy 72nd Birthday Marvin! Your birthdays were so important to you! The children in schools celebrate your birthday with cupcakes and candles and the teachers tell them you were like Mozart! May all  the children read the children’s book “Marvin makes music ” and their children read it to their children and keep listening and playing and singing your songs! They took you away from us way too soon. I love you forever and after that, Terre, (Lexi, Gracie, phoebe, Mortimer, and Gabriel too!) I love you! Happy birthday!

John Lithgow wrote:

Dear Marvin,
I write to you even though you are gone because in my mind you are not. In the last few years, I have done a lot of concerts for kids and solo shows for adults all over the country. It always seemed that every time I arrived at a concert hall, you had just done a concert and had left the day before or else you were due the following week. I was constantly leaving messages for you to await your arrival or your return engagements.

Marvin Hamlisch

Composer Marvin Hamlisch (1944–2012)


Wherever I went people spoke with awe and deep affection of your energy, generosity and extravagant brilliance. You spread joy, humor and above all, music to millions and you clearly loved doing it. Of those millions, I was one of the lucky ones. In 2001 I was in rehearsal rooms and studio’s with you, in groups and in solo coaching sessions working with you on my first ever Broadway musical.


WATCH (2 MIN) Music & Scenes excerpt from the Musical Sweet Smell of Success and Comments from John Lithgow, Peter Filichia and Craig Carnelia:

What an introduction!

I was not only your student but your eager audience as you frequently plopped yourself down at the piano and entertained everyone with your quick silver, hilarious improvised parodies. All of us looked on delighted and dazzled as music burst out of you.

When someone like you leaves us it is a terrible loss because you take so much joy with you. This is why I persuade myself that you are not gone. Your music still lives on of course, but so does your spirit in the memory of everyone who knew and worked with you. In my mind, you just did a gig and left yesterday and are due back again next season, right on schedule.

This letter is my message for you, awaiting your return.

Much love forever,

Filmmaker Steven Soderbergh, Terre Blair Hamlisch, and actor John Lithgow attend 'The Paley Center For Media Presents: The Music And Life Of Marvin Hamlisch' at Paley Center For Media on March 18, 2013 in New York City. (Source: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images North America)

Filmmaker Steven Soderbergh, Terre Blair Hamlisch, and actor John Lithgow attend ‘The Paley Center For Media Presents: The Music And Life Of Marvin Hamlisch’ at Paley Center For Media on March 18, 2013 in New York City. (Source: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images North America)

(Source: The American Cancer Society Gala celebration: “A Spring Salute to Marvin Hamlisch” — Featuring the Music for his Musical Score for the Broadway Musical “Sweet Smell of Success” - John Lithgow performed the role of J.J. Hunsecker in the 2002 Broadway Musical and won a Tony Award for best actor in a musical, 2002)

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  1. Many knew Marvin for his talent, but a few were privileged to know him for his character. Marvin was always giving, always loving, always kind and always seemed to have time (while he still had the time — I love that song) for others, no matter their station in life. Not many people in show business are like him. Many could learn from him. He was a man of humility, charm and grace and while I miss the talent, I miss the man even more.
    ” target=“_blank” rel=“nofollow”>LISTEN: WHILE I STILL HAVE THE TIME

  2. One of the many things that I remember Marvin saying: “No matter how crummy your life gets, you are always one phone call away from things becoming beautiful again.” Those hopeful words are Marvin’s phone call from the great beyond.

  3. Happy Birthday to my incredible friend and mentor Marvin Hamlisch! I think of you every single day and miss you sooo much! I found a great quote today: “Those we love and lose are always connected by heartstrings into infinity.” I will carry your torch as long as I live to remind the world the beautiful music you gave us all! Also thank you for teaching me the fun,joy and passion of living life to the fullest! Love you always! xxoo”

  4. Happy birthday to our marvelous Marv, Marvin Hamlisch! We miss you so much it still hurts. You were a musical genius, talented beyond compare and a man of great integrity. Thank you for your love, life lessons and joy! We had your favorite to celebrate you tonight, Graeters Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip. Oh how we wish you were here with us. Love, hugs and prayers to Teres today and always ❤️

  5. Remembering a great man. Today is our dear friends birthday. He loved life. He was an incredible entertainer and friend. He was generous, funny, talented and bigger than life. He was a wonderful husband to the beautiful Terre Blair. Our kids called him Uncle Marvin. We are thinking of you today and missing you very much! Rest in peace and Happy Birthday.”

  6. Remembering our Marvel on his birthday, gone from us too soon, but lives on in our memories and the many musical scores he left us! Happy Birthday Marvin from your Hemper!! Love to you, Te, Marvel is so proud of you!!

  7. Dear Terre — I am thinking about you today on Marvin’s birthday. I have reread John’s Lithgow’s letter many times over but the line that gets me is this one: “When someone like you leaves us it is a terrible loss because you take so much joy with you.” Marvin brought so much joy into the lives of everyone he met and I am so lucky that I was one of those people. I always liked having a concert with Marvin around his birthday because it always became an opportunity to celebrate (usually with ice cream or cake)!!

    I miss Marvin every day — but mostly I miss the laughter. There was always laughter! Marvin was a teacher, mentor but most importantly for me — he was my friend and that is something I will always treasure.

    All day long I have had “What I Did For Love” going through my head, which I think Marvin would like.

    Terre — you are the BEST and I am sending you all my love.

    Miss you Marvin…

    Ernie xo

  8. HAPPY BIRTHDAY Marvin Hamlisch! God bless your soul always! Listening to your music to celebrate you!!! Xoxo #birthday, #marvinhamlisch, #music, #musicals, #achorusline.

  9. Missing my friend, Marvin Hamlisch, on his birthday today (and everyday). He would have been 72 today and had so much more to give the world. I will always be grateful for his friendship and guidance. Love always.

  10. And I miss him! So many memories of his kindness, his humor and his talent are with us every day! His legacy lives in his music and what he did for love! And I am grateful that dear Terre continues to share his genius!

  11. 1972 we were both in la and i went to his apt on LaCienega and he was so excited “Mike I just beat Michel Legrand out for this movie score no lyricist yet but listen…! i was one of the first to hear THE WAY WE WERE.on his small upright in the apt

  12. Happy Birthday Marvin! I saw you crossing a street in San Diego once when you were here in town, and I think of you every time I pass that street corner. I loved you & your music — and was especially a fan of your collaboration with my all-time favorite performer — Liza Minnelli!

  13. He certainly left so way too soon. I always loved his music & it lives on — forever! I am pleased that I share the same birthday — June 2 — with him!

  14. You left us all too soon Marvin — but the memories of your kindness, wit and extraordinary musical gifts which you shared so generously — will forever provide console and lift our hearts. Happy Birthday dear friend — we’ll never forget all that you did for love!

  15. oh Marvin if you were only here to celebrate your birthday, but those who loved you celebrate in our hearts. “With a song in my heart, I behold your adorable face. Just a song at the start, but it soon is a hymn to your grace.” You did;t write that one but I thought of it just now as I thought and regularly think of you. What a privilege to have known you.