I had the great honor of meeting SuperGenius composer Marvin Hamlisch many years ago when I first left Nebraska and lived in Washington D.C. for awhile on my way to graduate school in New York City. I was stunned to learn Marvin died yesterday at the incredibly young age of 68.
In my January 11, 2010 United Stage article — A Final Walk with Jim Brady — I mentioned Marvin’s kindness to me as a young student of the theatre:
The Victory Awards were intended to honor achievements of the human spirit. The show was hosted by Frank Langella and Marvin Hamlisch was the musical director.
Frank did not speak to any of the workers on the show while Marvin Hamlisch struck up a conversation with me backstage — I was a new transplant from Nebraska to D.C. — and he told me we’d one day “write a musical together” because “that’s just how things happen.”
I knew Marvin was only making conversation with me about writing a musical together — but that was a great part of his warm charm as I learned in subsequent years of meeting him over and over again — and he was always kind and friendly to everyone he met and that meant a lot to the great unwashed of us because it’s just as easy, when you’re famous and successful, to be gentle as to be dismissive.
Many SuperGeniuses in Marvin’s class choose to be cold and hard even to those they are working with those sorts of uncomfortable relationships often needlessly end in shatterings and disappointments.
Marvin always saw you in the room. He made time for you even though he was busy. He was immediately human with you on a personal level and that was his greatest gift we will miss the most. The man’s music will live on forever, but the special warmth of his beating heart is now as fleeting as the promise of the mortal life he left behind.
I’m glad you had the chance to meet him. He impacted many people on many levels. I learned of this event yesterday, and though I didn’t know his name, his music is unforgettable.
Marvin was a massive talent, Lillian. In fact, he was the youngest student ever admitted to Juilliard at age 7. His teachers at Juilliard thought he was going to be the next Vladimir Horowitz. He became something else — not sure how Juilliard feels about his ultimate Broadway career path.
Juilliard at 7? That’s talent! Nice that you got a chance to be in his presence
He was certainly a worldwide talent at any age.