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Marvin Hamlisch collapses, dies; suddenness takes many by surprise

August 7, 2012 |  7:50 am

More photos: Marvin Hamlisch

The famed composer Marvin Hamlisch collapsed after a brief illness and died on Monday in Los Angeles, his family confirmed. He was 68.

His sudden death took many by surprise. On his own Facebook page, he was looking forward to a return stint conducting the Pasadena Symphony and Pops: "Love you Pasadena symphony ! ... Wow ! Can't do it without you ! See you in September!"

He was also scheduled to conduct the New York Philharmonic on New's Year Eve.

PHOTOS: Marvin Hamlisch

Pasadena Symphony and Pops President Melinda Shea said Hamlisch's death was unexpected and that she knew of no serious health problems.

"He'd pulled a back muscle recently, but there was nothing serious. He had some really wonderful new endeavors," Shea said. "It's just such a tragedy that this has happened, when he was still so young."

Shea said Hamlisch had signed a 3-year contract with the Pasadena symphony within the last few weeks and said he had other new ventures, including a movie about Liberace.

At the time of his death, Hamlisch held the position of principal pops conductor for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Pasadena Symphony and Pops, Seattle Symphony and San Diego Symphony. Next week, he was to be announced as the principal pops conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra.

PHOTOS: Notable deaths of 2012

Conducting symphonies was a second or third career for Hamlisch, who was a prolific composer. His work included the Oscar-winning score and song for "The Way We Were," as well as "Sophie's Choice," "Ordinary People," "Ice Castles" and, most recently, "The Informant."

Hamlisch won three Oscars, four Grammys, four Emmys and a Tony, as well as a Pulitzer Prize.

He is survived by his wife of 25 years, Terre. The couple lived in New York.

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-- Rebecca Trounson and Kimi Yoshino

Photo: In this Nov. 8, 2011, file photograph originally released by Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, composer Marvin Hamlisch and Barbra Streisand attend the Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors Gala at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Credit: Alex J. Berliner / Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

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