One of the most gifted popular composers of our time, Marvin Hamlisch has written an unforgettable book - outrageously funny, witty, brutally frank, and moving - about the remarkable career that brought him three Academy Awards, a Pulitzer Prize, and international fame by the age of thirty-one. It also left him alone, with nowhere to go but down. The son of Viennese immigrants, he was sent to New York City's Juilliard School of Music when he was only six, but the place made him a nervous wreck, and he unfailingly...
One of the most gifted popular composers of our time, Marvin Hamlisch has written an unforgettable book - outrageously funny, witty, brutally frank, and moving - about the remarkable career that brought him three Academy Awards, a Pulitzer Prize, and international fame by the age of thirty-one. It also left him alone, with nowhere to go but down. The son of Viennese immigrants, he was sent to New York City's Juilliard School of Music when he was only six, but the place made him a nervous wreck, and he unfailingly threw up before every final exam. He helped a young Liza Minnelli make her first record - as a Christmas present for her mother, Judy Garland. He next made his way downtown to Broadway, where he was a rehearsal pianist (and fetched chocolate-covered doughnuts) for Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl. He then hopped a train to Hollywood. ("After all, if God had wanted us to fly, he wouldn't have given us economy class.") It was there he composed the score and title song for The Way We Were and adapted the music for The Sting and accepted three Oscars in one evening. He came back east after that to work with Michael Bennett on A Chorus Line, the now-fabled longest-running musical ever. It was followed by more successes and then by Jean, a noble failure, and Smile, an ignoble one. "Something had gone terribly wrong. . . . What followed were very tough years for me, years without any writing offers of much consequence. It's funny, celebrity status. . . . Part of me knew that other projects would come in their own time and in their own way, but being idle and alone was still agony. I became very depressed. I had excruciating headaches. I also had to put to rest the child in me that still saw things in black and white, success or failure." He came to realize the need to slow down and reflect on where his musical career - and his life - were going. "My life would have to stop being about showing them. It would have to start to be about showing me." The Way I Was i
Writing with freelancer Gardner, composer Hamlisch, now 45, sums up his life to date. Peppering his narrative with anecdotes about friends and colleagues such as Liza Minnelli, Groucho Marx, Ann-Margret and Michael Bennett, he describes his childhood with his Jewish Viennese immigrant parents who were determined to make him a classical musician, his 14 years studying at New York City's Juilliard School of Music and his determination to go into show business rather than onto the concert stage. He recalls his early jobs as a rehearsal pianist, his instant celebrity with three Oscar awards for The Way We Were , his highly successful scores for the movie The Sting and the Broadway show A Chorus Line , his marriage and his recent foray into symphonic music. Hamlisch's confession that he tends toward pessimism and anxiety and his assessments of his failures ( Smile and Jean , a musical about the life of Jean Seberg) as well as his account of three years of relative inactivity--during which Hamlisch realized that his successes had been at the expense of a satisfying personal life--add a bit of weight to this slight and sometimes amusing autobiography. Photos not seen by PW. (Nov.)
For a dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker, Hamlisch has a narrative style that's long on homespun humor and not without a little pathos. As a talented youngster from a close-knit Jewish family, he sat for stressful yearly scholarship exams at the Juilliard School, which generally meant Maalox tablets and stomachaches. And when he wrote his first film score at 23 years of age, bleeding ulcers followed shortly thereafter. Because of some astounding successes, the composer of "Chorus Line" and "The Way We Were" may well command readers' attention with this chatty and fast-paced account of life in the show biz fast lane--his early triumph, later flops, and an overdue date with true love and marriage in 1989.