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Broadway Composer Tells Students to Fight for Dreams

February 23, 2001

In a message about the Bible and marriage, George Fischoff gave Oklahoma Baptist University students the secret to the success of his music career and his marriage during the university's focus week chapel service, Feb. 21.

Introducing the Bible as his best friend, the Staley Distinguished Christian Scholar encouraged students to involve God and the Bible in their mundane decisions and their biggest goals.

"People, you gotta fight for those dreams," he said. "Bring God in on every project."

"This is the book that counts," he said, holding up his Bible. "It's the book for comfort, solace, growth, humanity, kindness, forgiveness, mercy, and salvation, and guidance in every single aspect of your daily lives."

Making an appearance at his 47th university as a part of the Christian scholar program, Fischoff included personal examples in the theme of the focus week -- marriage and family.

"If people ask me 'Why has your marriage lasted 40 years?' I tell them it's because I had no doubts beforehand," he said. "I knew in my heart that I wanted to spend my life with this person.

"Be careful students," he said. "Be sure. God gives you what you need, not always what you want."

Fischoff, a former student of Rudolf Serkin and a Juilliard graduate, composed the 1960s pop music hits "98.6," performed by Keith and "Lazy Day," performed by Spanky and Our Gang, both of which became "Million Performance Songs" in 1996.

In 1970, Fischoff was the youngest composer on Broadway with the Tony-nominated musical "Georgy!." He wrote and directed "Promised Land," a musical history of Moses that ran eight months off-Broadway.

His musical of James Michener's "Sayonara," with lyrics by Hy Gilbert, has played in nine of the country's leading theatres.

Fischoff told how he had waited 22 years from the time he wrote "Sayonara" until it gained any attention.

"What kept me going?" he asked. "Old Testament and New Testament. Old Testament and New Testament."

Donning the play's t-shirt, Fischoff described how New York's Papermill Playhouse spent $1,600,000 on the first production of the musical.

"Never give up," he said. "Just remember this t-shirt."