Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Marvin Hamlisch - 6/2/1944 - 8/6/2012 - I Remember

“I started studying music at the age of five and a half. My older sister was taking piano lessons. When her teacher left our apartment, I would get up on the piano bench and start picking out the notes that were part of my sister’s lessons.”–Marvin Hamlisch

It was sometime last year.

I think.

Maybe it was the year before.

I don't remember. I don't remember the date. I don't remember the time, or the place. I remember it was walking distance from The Guggenheim.

I sat in the back row. I faced a baby grand piano, center stage.

I was waiting for Marvin Hamlisch.

And then he appeared.

He entered stage left. And calm as an evening lake, he seated himself at the piano.

He placed his fingers on the keyboard.

As goosebumps rippled my arms, for the next hour and a half, Mr. Hamlisch serenaded the standing room only audience with his music, a medley of award winning tunes:

Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows, The Way We Were; songs from The Sting, Gypsy, West Side Story, and more.

In between each song, he ad libbed, some personal commentary thing that put a smile on my face and made the audience laugh, sigh and clap.

Looking back, it is a precious moment in time locked forever in my heart and one I will never forget. I was in the presence of greatness.

And I knew it.

The news of Marvin Hamlisch's death yesterday afternoon wrinkled my brow. It caused me to stop what it was I was doing.

I blinked a moistened eye, and said a silent prayer.

No, I did not know Mr. Hamlisch, personally. But, when the newsman announced his passing, I was reminded immediately of one very special evening, one very gifted gentle man friendly as Mr. Rogers, and one huge talent that smothered me softly.

The memory of that special evening, that warm witty man and his music, is with me still.

To Marvin Hamlisch's wife, Terre Blaire, his family, friends and fans, Griefcase extends sincerest condolences.

Mourning Quote:

"Just as sometimes you need a person to be strong for you, maybe sometimes you need a person to be weak for you."--Lolly Winston, from her book, Good Grief."

Mourning Joy:

Q: What kind of hats do they wear at the North Pole?

A: Ice caps


  1. This was a beautiful memory, Linda.


  2. Linda,

    Nice to see you back in print.

    Small world: I was there that evening as well. It was October 20, 2010 at an event sponsored by the Learning Annex.

    Your experience and your descriptions capture him and the evening perfectly. Of him I would add only that he was witty, charming and thoroughly engaging. Of the evening it can also be described as magical.

    You may remember as do I two particularly touching anecdotes he related:
    1. How he built a "box" around his piano so as to lower the sound of the piano in an attempt not to disturb his neighbors (as though hearing music like that could disturb anyone).
    2. How they changed the title to "Dance 10: Looks 3" and thus the entire audience reaction based on the reaction of Marsha Mason (Neil Simon's wife).

    Thanks for bringing back the memories and sounds of such an "enchanted evening."

    A Loyal Reader


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