The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Marvin Hamlisch is enthusiasm. He had tremendous love of life and he lived large. If he heard about a new restaurant, he would be the first one there. If there was a new vitamin or a new composer or a new trend, he was aware of it before anybody.
When he loved something, he was the greatest fan. He would constantly say, “Have you heard such and such, have you seen so and so?” He genuinely appreciated talent and was never threatened by anybody who was good. He was very secure in his own ability, which gave him the comfort to be kind about other people. It also meant you could say or do anything onstage and he was right there with you. He would often take suggestions from an audience and improvise a song spontaneously, and it was usually better than pieces songwriters worked on for weeks.
With A Chorus Line, Marvin created a Broadway sound that was fresh and exciting. In that show, with Ed Kleban’s lyrics, he took the classic Broadway paradigm and made it contemporary without losing any of the craft. At the time of his passing, he was working on a show that was partly rooted in traditional Broadway sounds and partly had a rap sensibility. He was so excited at the prospect of creating another new kind of theater song, and I know he would have done it.
Feinstein is a singer and pianist who took over for Hamlisch as the lead conductor of the Pasadena Pops
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