In 1950 at age six, Marvin Hamlisch was the youngest student to be accepted to Juilliard, the famous New York City music school. He auditioned with a then-modern pop song, Goodnight Irene, instead of the usual classical music selection. Marvin was the American son of Jewish Austrian immigrants forced out of Vienna by Hitler. His parents assumed that his future is made after his acceptance at Juilliard. However, Marvin was wracked by stage fright before each recital. He quickly realized that he wasn’t the next world-famous classical pianist. For Marvin was interested in pop music that was playing on the radio in the 1950s and 60s.
Marvin’s first stage production was H.M.S. Pinafore with his sixth grade classroom. Around the same time, Marvin found his first lyricist, a distant relative who would soon marry his sister. Soon they were popping out top 40 hits and eventually whole scores of musicals.
Marvin’s story is a typical American rags-to-riches based on chutzpah and talent alone. However, the best part of this graphic novel for me was the story of his parent’s life in Austria pre-Hitler, post-Hitler, and how they individually escaped to Liechtenstein and eventually America. Their story is an heartwrenching tale of risking it all for love and freedom.
I remember many of Marvin’s plays from my youth. He wrote the scores of The Sting and Chorus Line. For his work in many environments, he won a coveted EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony). A lot can be learned from Marvin’s life and especially about the racism his family endured under the Nazis. 5 stars!
Thanks to Schiffer Publishing Ltd. and NetGalley for granting a wish for a copy in exchange for my honest review.