The Associated Press said his legacy in film and music transcended notes on the page. The head of the Pasadena Symphony said he left a specific, original mark on American music.
We’ll second the above and remember Marvin Hamlisch not just for his musicianship, but also for his affection for Buffalo. Once, when conducting the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, he ordered a drum roll so he could announce, “for God’s sake, the Sabres won, 4-3.”
He joked with us about the snow. He took young musicians here under his wing. As the BPO’s principal pops conductor from 2003-2007, he never took himself too seriously, Mary Kunz Goldman, The Buffalo News’ classical music critic, recalled in a report about Hamlisch’s life.
“You didn’t miss anything,’’ he once told a pair of stragglers who had arrived late to one of his concerts and were moving to their seats. When a child during a holiday pops concert said she wanted a white Christmas, Hamlisch asked, “how about a white Labor Day? Or a white Easter? I think you’re good for all of them.’’
Maybe Groucho Marx had rubbed off on him. A younger Marvin Hamlisch had served as Groucho’s pianist.
He wrote memorable songs (“The Way We Were; ‘‘Nobody Does It Better’’). He won major awards (Oscars, Emmys, a Tony, a Pulitzer). He had the respect of the major entertainers of his day. For his audiences, he was fun, approachable and always entertaining.
When his status with the BPO was announced in 2003, Music Director JoAnn Falletta said, “We have, frankly, a superstar who has a direct connection to us now." While true, Hamlisch probably would blush at being called a superstar.
Buffalo was not the only city for which Hamlisch had served as a conductor. At the time of his sudden death Monday in Los Angeles at the age of 68, he held positions with orchestras in Pasadena, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Dallas and San Diego.
So he got around.
But he seemed like a Buffalo guy, didn’t he?