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Boro reacts to Hamlisch death as Queens College plans tribute

Composer Marvin Hamlisch, who was best known for the song “The Way We Were,” died Monday at the age of 68. AP Photo/Tribune-Review, Stephanie Strasburg
TimesLedger Newspapers

Award-winning composer and Queens College graduate Marvin Hamlisch died in Los Angeles Monday. He was 68.

Hamlisch was known for an impressive body of work, including his groundbreaking original score to the Broadway musical “A Chorus Line.” His work made him one of the most decorated artists in the musical world. For “A Chorus Line,” he won a Pulitzer, but picked up three Oscars, four Grammys, four Emmys, a Tony and three Golden Globes for his original film scores, songs and adaptations, his publicist said.

“Everyone in the Queens College family mourns the passing of American music icon Marvin Hamlisch. His experience at Queens College echoes that of many of our current students — he was a young man from humble beginnings who benefited from a dedicated faculty, and then went on to make great contributions to his field,” said Queens College President James Muyskens.

Hamlisch was set to conduct a concert by the Queens College Orchestra in November, according to Muyskens, but the performance will instead be in tribute.

Hamlisch, who grew up in New York City, was also slated to conduct the New York Philharmonic this New Year’s Eve, according to Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

“Today, we lost a world-class virtuoso and native New Yorker whose music brought stages and screens to life from Broadway to Hollywood and all points in-between,” the mayor said.

Hamlisch graduated from Queens College with a bachelor of arts degree, but started his education as the youngest person ever to be admitted to the prestigious Juilliard School of Music at 7 years old.

The virtuoso scored more than 40 films and took home an Oscar for his original score of “The Way We Were” and his adaptation of Scott Joplin’s music for “The Sting.” He also produced original scores or adaptations for “Sophie’s Choice,” “Ordinary People,” “The Swimmer,” “Three Men and a Baby,” “Ice Castles,” “Take the Money and Run,” “The Informant!” and his latest effort, “Behind the Candelabra.”

On Broadway, Hamlisch wrote the score for “They’re Playing Our Song,” “The Goodbye Girl” and “Sweet Smell of Success.” He was scheduled to leave for Nashville later this week to see his musical, “The Nutty Professor,” and was also working on a new musical called “Gotta Dance,” according to his publicist.

Hamlisch worked closely with singer and actress Barbra Streisand, who issued a statement on the composer’s death.

“I’m devastated. He was my dear friend. He’s been in my life ever since the first day I met him in 1963, when he was my rehearsal pianist for ‘Funny Girl,’” she said. “He played at my wedding in 1998.”

Hamlisch was born to Viennese parents and is survived by his wife of 25 years, Terre Hamlisch.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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