Broadway's bright glow will dim for a moment on Wednesday in memory of the late Marvin Hamlisch, a prolific American composer who died this week after a more than four-decade long career that spanned film, music, television and theater.

The New York City-born composer, who was working until days before his death, earned the rare distinction of winning Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards. His musical ensembles and "old-fashioned" style made him a favorite with Hollywood elites, theater-goers and dignitaries, and earned him three Oscars, four Grammys, four Emmys, a Tony and three Golden Globe awards — one of only 11 people ever to do so, according to The Broadway League, a trade group for the industry.

A family spokesman confirmed he had died at the age of 68 after a brief illness.

Barbra Streisand, who had been a friend of Hamlisch's for 45 years, said she was devastated at his death and recalled how he had played at her 1998 wedding.

"When I think of him now, it was his brilliantly quick mind, his generosity and delicious sense of humour that made him a delight to be around," she said.

"He was a true musical genius but above all that, he was a beautiful human being. I will truly miss him."

Hamlisch, raised by Jewish parents and showing an early ability to mimic music as a young child, started out his professional career as a rehearsal pianist for Funny Girl, beginning a long history of working with Streisand.

Starting with 1969 film The Swimmer, Hamlisch scored films for the next several decades, including Woody Allen's Take the Money and Run and Bananas, Save the Tiger, Ice Castles, right up to Steven Soderbergh's The Informant! in 2009.

He had recently been writing the score for a new Soderbergh movie based on the life of the pianist Liberace.

On Broadway, he won a Tony award and a Pulitzer Prize for the 1975 musical A Chorus Line, which at the time became the most successful show on the Great White Way.

He also wrote the scores for musicals They're Playing Our Song, The Goodbye Girl and Sweet Smell Of Success.

At the time of his death, he was principal pops conductor for several US symphony orchestras and was scheduled to conduct the New York Philharmonic in this year's New Year's Eve concert.