PITTSBURGH, PA — Lost in the parade of film and stage hits and in the long run of pops concerts is that Marvin Hamlisch was a piano prodigy. He was barely 7 when he enrolled in the Juilliard School of Music.
Even lesser-known is that he wore pajamas under his scratchy wool suit at the audition. How do we know that? Well, he has told the story in a children’s book, “Marvin Makes Music” (Dial, $17.99 hardcover), with illustrations by Jim Madsen.
It is a sweet story about a bright-eyed boy, but the context is bittersweet — Penguin books published it in late November, three months after Hamlisch died at age 68.
Because the galleys were sent to the printer before he died, the book makes no mention of his death.
But it does cast a light on the roots of his passion for composing, which he far preferred over practicing music by “composers with funny names, like Wolfgang.” It also relates how he liked to pretend every sound he heard in New York was a part of a “City Symphony.” That’s reflected in “The Music in My Mind,” a song written for the book and included in an accompanying CD -