Marvin Hamlisch, the composer of the groundbreaking musical A Chorus Line and of such films as The Way We Were, The Sting and Ordinary People, has died in Los Angeles. The cause of death is being reported as a "brief illness." He was 68.
Since 2010, Hamlisch has also been the principal pops conductor for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and was scheduled to open his third DSO pops season with a tribute to Frank Sinatra in October, and had more dates in 2013. Those programs will still go on, but the Dallas Symphony hasn't announced new conductors for them yet.
He also held conducting positions with symphonies in Pittsburgh, Seattle, Milwaukee, Pasadena and San Diego.
Hamlisch is one of 12 people to have won the quadruple crown of entertainment awards—at least one each of an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony (EGOT). In addition, he has Golden Globes and a Pulitzer Prize, for A Chorus Line. His other musicals include They're Playing Our Song, The Goodbye Girl and The Nutty Professor, which recently opened in Nashville and is playing through Aug. 24. He was also writing music for the Steven Soderbergh film about Liberace, Behind the Candelabra.
"What made it, for Marvin, work so well was that he also knew classical music," DSO interim president David Hyslop said in an inteview with Emily Trube of KRLD. "When you're standing up in front of musicians of the caliber of the Dallas Symphony, you better know what you're doing."
Here's more from the official statement from the DSO:
"Marvin was a consummate musician and composer who in many ways revolutionized theater music, film scoring and popular song. Marvin brought unrivalled professionalism and skill to his musical leadership with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra Pops series. His natural grace at the piano, his humor and his elegant style in many genres of music delighted and charmed audiences, and impressed his fellow musicians the world over.
Marvin Hamlsich was scheduled to conduct three performances on the DSO Pops Series in the upcoming 2012-2013 season. At this time, these performances will go on as planned, with guest conductors to be announced later."
"Hamlisch has always been a great raconteur," says Gregory Isaacs, our classical music critic who reviewed several of Hamlisch's performances with DSO. "His clever running commentary is both witty and improvised on the spot, with a few prepared jokes interspersed."
Here's a video interview we shot with Hamlisch when he was beginning his stint with the Dallas Symphony in 2010: