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Sheldon Harnick
Sheldon Harnick.jpg
Background information
Born (1924-04-30) April 30, 1924 (age 91)
Chicago, Illinois, United States
Genres Musical theater
Occupation(s) Lyricist

Sheldon Harnick (born April 30, 1924) is an American lyricist best known for his collaborations with composer Jerry Bock on hit musicals such as Fiddler on the Roof.

Harnick began his career writing words and music to comic songs in musical revues. One of these, "The Merry Minuet", was popularized by the Kingston Trio.[1] It is in the caustic style usually associated with Tom Lehrer and is sometimes incorrectly attributed to him.


Harnick began writing music while still in Carl Schurz High School in Chicago, IL. After his Army service, he graduated from the Northwestern University School of Music (1946-1949) with a Bachelor of Music Degree, and worked with various orchestras in the Chicago area. He then moved to New York City and wrote for many musicals and revues.[2] He was friends with Charlotte Rae from college, and he went to see her one night at the Village Vanguard where she was singing a revue. Yip Harburg, who was one of Harnick's idols, heard she was singing a song of his and decided to come. He told Harnick that he enjoyed his writing, and urged him to continue. He advised Harnick to work with a large number of composers. He also counseled him to write character and comic songs, not ballads, for Broadway. Harnick followed both tips. Harburg gave him that advice because his old partner, Jay Gorney, had told them ballads were the key to success on Broadway.[3]

Around 1956, Harnick met Jerry Bock, forming "what is arguably the most important musical partnership of the '60s." [4] Their first musical was The Body Beautiful, running for only 60 performances in 1958, but Fiorello! (1959) ran for 795 performances and won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Fiddler on the Roof (1964) "became one of the most cherished of all Broadway musicals."[4]

Harnick wrote the libretto for the opera Coyote Tales, with music by Henry Mollicone, which received its world premiere at the Lyric Opera of Kansas City in March 1998.[5] He wrote the book, music and lyrics to the musical Dragons, which was performed in 2003 at the Luna Stage (Montclair, New Jersey).[6] He wrote the lyrics and co-wrote the book with Norton Juster for the musical The Phantom Tollbooth, based on the book by Juster. The musical premiered at The Kennedy Center in 2007.[7]

Stage productions[edit]

Honors and awards[edit]

  • In 1960, Harnick, Bock and Jerome Weidman (book) won the Pulitzer Prize in Drama for Fiorello!.[8]
  • Sheldon Harnick has won three Tony Awards. In 1960, he, Bock and Weidman tied with Rodgers and Hammerstein for best musical; that year, both Fiorello! and The Sound of Music won. And in 1965, Bock and Harnick's Fiddler on the Roof won for both Best Musical and Best Composer and Lyricist.[9]
  • In honor of Harnick's vast influence on American music, on May 19, 1984 he was awarded the University of Pennsylvania Glee Club Award of Merit.[10] Beginning in 1964, this award "established to bring a declaration of appreciation to an individual each year that has made a significant contribution to the world of music and helped to create a climate in which our talents may find valid expression."
  • Sheldon Harnick was honored at the Twenty-Sixth Annual William Inge Theatre Festival located in Independence, Kansas, in 2007.[11]
  • Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock were presented with the 18th Annual York Theatre Company's prestigious Oscar Hammerstein Award for Lifetime Achievement in Theatre in 2009.[12]


  1. ^ Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 19 - Blowin' in the Wind: Pop discovers folk music. [Part 2] : UNT Digital Library" (audio). Pop Chronicles. Digital.library.unt.edu. Retrieved 2011-04-29. 
  2. ^ "Biography of Sheldon Harnick". MTI Shows. Retrieved March 2, 2012. 
  3. ^ http://www.playbill.com/features/article/183726-Sheldon-Harnick-Approaching-90-Fiddler-Lyricist-Recalls-a-Mentor/pg2?tsrc=nx
  4. ^ a b "Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick". Broadway:The American Musical. PBS.org. Retrieved March 2, 2012. 
  5. ^ "'Coyote Tales' listing" henrymollicone.com, accessed March 4, 2012
  6. ^ Jones, Kenneth."Sheldon Harnick's Musical, 'Dragons', Roars in NJ Starting Nov. 13; Harnick in the House for Opening" playbill.com, November 13, 2003
  7. ^ "'The Phantom Tollbooth' listing" kennedy-center.org, accessed March 4, 2012
  8. ^ "The Pulitzer Prize, Drama". Pulitzer.org. Retrieved March 2, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Sheldon Harnick". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved March 2, 2012. 
  10. ^ "The University of Pennsylvania Glee Club Award of Merit Recipients". Archived from the original on 2012-02-09. 
  11. ^ "The William Inge Theatre Festival". Retrieved March 2, 2012. 
  12. ^ Hetrick, Adam (November 23, 2009). "Bock and Harnick Receive Hammerstein Award Nov. 23; Cook, Kuhn, Kudisch and More Will Sing". Playbill. Retrieved March 2, 2012. 

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheldon_Harnick — Please support Wikipedia.
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9036 videos foundNext > 

L'Chayim: Sheldon Harnick

Legendary Broadway lyricist Sheldon Harnick sits to discuss creating one of his favorite musicals and greatest masterpieces, "Fiddler on the Roof". With Mark S.

Iain Loves Theatre with Sheldon Harnick

Hear Iain, the world's youngest theatre critic, talk with Sheldon Harnick about York's upcoming production of Rothschild and Sons.

727. The Merry Minuet (Sheldon Harnick)

Sheldon Harnick, who wrote this charming little ditty in 1958, is best known for the popular musical, "Fiddler on the Roof". The rendition that everybody knows is ...

Theater Talk: Legendary Lyricist Sheldon Harnick

Lyricist Sheldon Harnick recounts experiences from his 50-year career in the theater, including his partnership with the late composer Jerry Bock, which resulted ...

ANATEVKA | Joseph Stein, Jerry Bock & Sheldon Harnick | Theater Lüneburg

Musical von Joseph Stein, Jerry Bock und Sheldon Harnick Musikalische Leitung: Stephan Zilias (Juni 2015) | Robin Davis (ab Oktober 2015) Inszenierung: ...

Sheldon Harnick Sings To Barbara Cook.

Press event for the Encompass Opera Company.

Sheldon Harnick on the origin of "If I Were A Rich Man" - FHM To Life 2013

In an on-stage discussion with Jeffrey Lyons during the Florida Holocaust Museum's 2013 To Life event, famed songwriter and lyricist, Sheldon Harnick, ...

Show & Tell: Fiddler on the Roof lyricist Sheldon Harnick

Subscribe for more videos like this: http://youtube.com/subscription_center?add_user=92ndStreetY We visited Fiddler on the Roof lyricist Sheldon Harnick at his ...

Lauren Worsham - "Will He Like Me?" (Jerry Bock/Sheldon Harnick)

MICHAEL ZAHLER - SONGS BARBARA TAUGHT US A Contemporary Musical Journey Inspired by the Great Barbara Cook February 20, 2015 - 54 Below ...


Posted for Sheldon Harnick on the occasion of his 90th Birthday. This performance of "Artificial Flowers", written by Sheldon and composer Jerry Bock for the ...

9036 videos foundNext > 

4202 news items

New York Times

New York Times
Fri, 20 Nov 2015 04:00:57 -0800

“Doing what?” Sheldon Harnick asked, seemingly startled by the suggestion. The 91-year-old lyricist, a musical theater luminary best known for “Fiddler on the Roof,” was sitting on his couch at the Beresford, the stately Upper West Side apartment ...
Broadway World
Tue, 03 Nov 2015 08:41:15 -0800

Encompass New Opera Theatre held a gala to honor legendary Broadway performer BARBARA COOK and lyricist LEE ADAMS (Bye Bye Birdie, Golden Boy, Applause) with a star-studded musical salute on Sunday, October 25. BroadwayWorld has photos ...


Fri, 20 Nov 2015 14:18:45 -0800

... 78, spent in a Japanese-American internment camp during World War II. On the other, Fiddler on the Roof plays the Broadway Theatre and tells of Jews being expelled from Imperial Russia in 1905 by edict of the Tsar. For Fiddler lyricist Sheldon ...

New York Times

New York Times
Fri, 27 Nov 2015 06:15:00 -0800

20) Sunrise, sunset, swiftly flow the days and suddenly it's time for a new revival of this shtetl-set musical by Joseph Stein, Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock. Danny Burstein and Jessica Hecht star as Tevye and Golde. Bartlett Sher, fresh from the Siam ...

New York Times

New York Times
Thu, 26 Nov 2015 18:17:51 -0800

EAST HADDAM "A Wonderful Life," musical by Joe Raposo and Sheldon Harnick. Through Dec. 6. $36.50 to $78.50. Goodspeed Opera House, 6 Main Street. goodspeed.org; 860-873-8668. FAIRFIELD "Holiday Express Train Show." Dec. 5 through Jan. 3.

New York Times (blog)

New York Times (blog)
Tue, 17 Nov 2015 09:53:05 -0800

Among the guests are bold-faced names of Broadway like Sheldon Harnick (“Fiddler on the Roof”), Jason Robert Brown (“Parade”) and Leslie Odom Jr. (“Hamilton”). Hosted by Jack Viertel, the artistic director of Encores!, the series begins Dec. 14 with ...
Broadway World
Fri, 27 Nov 2015 09:26:15 -0800

Fiddler on the Roof has book by Joseph Stein, music by Jerry Bock and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick. The original Broadway production of the show, which opened in 1964, was the first musical in history to surpass 3,000 performances. The show won the 1965 ...


Wed, 25 Nov 2015 03:08:51 -0800

I have since gotten to meet and talk to Sheldon Harnick. Writing these shows was a wonderful way for up-and-coming Broadway writers and performers to work in the business, make really excellent money. Corporations were spending at a furious clip.

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