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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 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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1609 news items

Broadway World
Mon, 03 Aug 2015 08:22:30 -0700

From Irving Berlin to Rodgers and Hart to Comden and Green to Sheldon Harnick to Stephen Sondheim to Jason RobertBrown the Yiddish influence of Broadway's music and lyrics has carried from one century onto the next. The concert is produced in ...
Alamogordo Daily News
Fri, 31 Jul 2015 08:17:39 -0700

2 at 2 p.m. This is an Alamogordo Music Theater Production of "Fiddler on the Roof," a musical with music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, based on the book by Joseph Stein, set in the Pale of Settlement of Imperial Russia in 1905. Print-at ...

The News Journal

The News Journal
Thu, 30 Jul 2015 09:27:45 -0700

Joseph Stein's “Fiddler,” thought, featuring music and lyrics by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, still holds up – something that can't be said of many shows from the relatively recent 1960s. Under the direction of Brian Carter, “Fiddler” utilizes the ...

New York Times

New York Times
Tue, 28 Jul 2015 04:42:13 -0700

As proof that the pile-up of musicals just won't stop, the BBC Proms season of concerts at the Royal Albert Hall got in on the act on July 25 for a single performance of “Fiddler on the Roof,” the Jerry Bock (music) and Sheldon Harnick (lyrics ...


Mon, 27 Jul 2015 10:03:12 -0700

The original 1963 production starred Barbara Cook, Daniel Massey and Jack Cassidy and ran 301 performances--considered a disappointment for songwriters Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, the team whose Fiorello! had previously won a Tony and Pulitzer, ...
Broadway World
Fri, 15 May 2015 13:51:20 -0700

But getting to the "final Fiddler" was a fascinating process, and on May 30, 31 and June 1-closing the 2015 Lyrics & Lyricists season-lyricist Sheldon Harnick takes us inside the creation and history of this cultural landmark. Artistic director Rob ...

San Diego Reader

San Diego Reader
Fri, 10 Jul 2015 14:03:28 -0700

Georg Novak, She Loves Me, music, Jerry Bock, lyrics, Sheldon Harnick, book, Joe Masteroff. Georg, the gentlemanly shop manager of Maracek's Parfumerie, has a secret pen pal. “The role of Georg has always been a favorite. In the only production I did, ...

Boston Globe

Boston Globe
Sat, 18 Jul 2015 09:30:00 -0700

In 1959, the same year Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick were enjoying a Broadway hit with “Fiorello!'' (and five years before their blockbuster “Fiddler on the Roof''), Bock and Harnick wrote a musical for the Ford tractor and implement division called ...

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