August 7, 2012, - 3:12 pm
In Judaism, when someone Jewish dies, we do not say, “Rest In Peace” or RIP. We say, “Zichrono LiVrachah” [Hebrew for “Blessed Be His Memory”] or “Z”L.” And with the news of Marvin Hamlisch’s death, yesterday, at age 68, I say Zichrono LiVrachah about one of the great American musical composers of contemporary times. An extreme talent, it’s notable that he was the son of Austrian Jewish immigrants because he was one of many Jewish contributors to the great soundtracks of Broadway and film, especially in the 1970s and ’80s. Hamlisch began Juilliard at the incredibly young age of seven and his extensive body of work and tremendous talent were unmatched. He was a composer, conductor, pianist, lyricist, and writer. He was principal pops conductor with several major American cities’ orchestras. And he was one of only two people to win Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony, and Pulitzer Prize awards. He also won two Golden Globes. I don’t know what Hamlisch’s politics were (which is how it should be)–I assume he was liberal like many of his showbiz friends, including Barbra Streisand. But there is no denying the great lyrics and musical arrangements he contributed to soundtracks, the theme song from “The Way We Were” and “The Spy Who Loved Me’s” “Nobody Does It Better” (as sung by Steven Tyler’s twin, Carly Simon) to Broadway’s “A Chorus Line’s” “One” (which became a film).
When I note that Hamlisch was Jewish, I also note that you never see (nor will you) Muslims contributing such a body of work, such a tremendous amount of musical talent to the former greatness of the America’s performing arts. Never has been nor will there ever be a Mohammed Hamlisch. Not even close (unless you count the “orchestra” of cellphone tones that set off IEDs.) When people attack “the Jews” in the entertainment industry, they also forget that many Jews of yesteryear and recent decades also brought us great things, as Hamlisch did with his enjoyable musical compositions. He was a great Jewish American talent.
Today, movies use established hits and background music, and it’s rare that original scores are written for movies, something that Hamlisch made a career of doing successfully. His songs regularly hit the top of the Billboard charts, and he scored over 40 motion pictures. Here are some of my favorite Marvin Hamlisch tunes. (I also like “The Entertainer” from “The Sting,” but that was really written by Scott Joplin.) What are yours? . . .
Great Marvin Hamlisch Interview About His Life in Music & How He Got His Start at Age 6 . . .
Marvin Hamlisch, Zichrono LiVrachah [Blessed Be His Memory]
Tags: Great American Jews, Jewish-Americans, Marvin Hamlisch