Hamlisch, Marvin Frederick (02 June 1944–06 August 2012), composer, songwriter, and conductor, was born in New York City, the son of Lilly Schachter and Max Hamlisch, a musician. His Austrian Jewish parents had very narrowly escaped the Nazis, reluctantly leaving Vienna and arriving in America in 1937, poor and hampered by their inability to speak English fluently. By the age of three, his father recognized the small boy’s musical gifts, and at the age of six, Marvin was enrolled in the Preparatory Division at the Juilliard School of Music in Manhattan, where he was the youngest student ever accepted. He possessed perfect pitch and the ability to re-create on the piano, in any key, any music he heard. As a scholarship student, each year brought dreaded recitals and the audition to retain the scholarship, which he compared to facing a firing squad. By the age of ten, the decidedly anxious prodigy was swallowing Maalox and chewing antacids for what would eventually become a well-earned bleeding ulcer. Already young Marvin had realized, definitively, that he would not become an acclaimed classical pianist. Instead, thrilled by such diverse musicals as ...
Marvin Frederick Hamlisch. Oil on canvas, 2013, by Richard Stone. © Richard Stone. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Sir Howard and Lady Jennifer Stringer.