Marvin Hamlisch: Did his music affect you?

Marvin Hamlisch

Whenever a musician writes a song, his hope is that many persons will appreciate, enjoy and understand the emotions he is trying to communicate.  The writer also would like his music to last and continue to be relevant far beyond his or her own existence. If you think about the great classical composers like Mozart, Bach, Brahms and contemporary composers like Copeland and Bernstein their music has lasted and been revered for many years after their deaths. Of course, the shelf life of popular music is not nearly as long in our day and time. However, movie scores and Broadway musicals seem to endure as popular even if the film or play does not. Last week we lost a true musical giant in the industry in Marvin Hamlisch. Many may not be familiar with Mr. Hamlisch but his music has left an indelible mark in musical history. As I read much of the information about Marvin Hamlisch this week, I found out about the various awards he won over the years. Oh yes, he won Grammy, Oscar, Emmy, Tony awards and a Pulitzer Prize and much more critical acclaim. My thoughts went to Marvin Hamlisch the person. During the 1970’s and early 1980’s he could regularly be seem in television. His interviews were always entertaining, funny and musically educational. Most of all Marvin Hamlisch will be remembered for writing some of the most beautiful music of our time, but the work of a film composer normally renders the music very familiar with the artist remaining in obscurity. What that means is the writers’ music will not only be recognizable, but we may develop an emotional connection to the work. One quotation from this week stated that Hamlisch wrote the soundtrack of our lives. Such a true statement! When you think about Hamlisch’s “The Way We Were”, the song has been applied to everything from high school graduations to athletic championship seasons. Everyone can reflect on their own memories and the song lyrics and structure can elicit deep emotional responses. If a songwriter can create music like that, it could be more than a hit. The song would actually affect the listener, or make the listener feel or react a certain way. The brilliance of Marvin Hamlisch is noted because he has written more than a few songs like “The Way We Were”. Remember “Nobody Does it Better”, from the James Bond film “The Spy Who Loved Me”? It is another song from a film that has been covered and used in ways different than its original use. Therefore, Marvin Hamlisch’s name may not be well known in every household, but we have been greatly affected by his music. What a great legacy to leave for us. Thank you for all your music Marvin Hamlisch.