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Sheldon Harnick
Sheldon Harnick.jpg
Background information
Born (1924-04-30) April 30, 1924 (age 90)
Chicago, Illinois, United States
Genres Musical theater
Occupations 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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8128 videos foundNext > 

Dave's Gone By Interview (1/27/08): SHELDON HARNICK

Topics: Broadway, Fiddler on the Roof, She Loves Me, Fiorello, The Rothschilds, The Apple Tree Segment originally aired in two parts -- Jan. 27, 2008 & Feb. ...

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 resu...

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, discus...

The Carol Burnett Show - Tribute to Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock

Here's a musical ode to composers Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock, with guest stars Roddy McDowall and Bernadette Peters. Enjoy! I do not own any of the foota...

If I were a Rich Man by Sheldon Harnick LIVE

Sheldon Harnick, the lyricist behind the Broadway hit, "Fiddler on the Roof", performs "If I were a Rich Man" at the annual Golden Gala at the Arena Stage in...

Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick with David Zippel

Produced by the Dramatists Guild Fund, the Legacy Project is a series of interviews featuring prominent contemporary American playwrights, lyricists and comp...

York Theatre Company Presents Dragons - Sheldon Harnick

Use Video Code VIDEO35 for $35.00 Tickets (Regular Price: $45.00) The Second Show of The York Theatre Company's MUFTI Series celebrating the works of Sheldon...

Sheldon Harnick 90th Birthday Greeting!

An impromptu birthday greeting to the great Sheldon Harnick, Broadway Writer, Lyricist and Composer Extraordinaire (Fiddler on the Roof, She Loves Me, Fiorel...

A Musical Salute to Sheldon Harnick by Encompass New Opera Theater-National Arts Club

A great evening at the National Arts Club celebrating Sheldon Harnick on Oct 28, 2013.

The Phantom Tollbooth Musical Authors Sheldon Harnick and Norton Juster

The Phantom Tollbooth, the beloved children's book written by Norton Juster in 1961 has become one of the most treasured books in youth literature, educating...

8128 videos foundNext > 

73 news items

Broadway World
Mon, 28 Jul 2014 21:52:30 -0700

Sheldon Harnick Reflects On 50 Years of FIDDLER ON THE ROOF Legendary Broadway songwriter Sheldon Harnick reflects on 50 years of his popular musical FIDDLER ON THE ROOF in honor of its anniversary this month as part of a new interview.

BBC News

Heeb Magazine
Fri, 25 Jul 2014 13:54:30 -0700

Who should live so that on June 9, 2014, to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Fiddler on the Roof, 90th birthday of Fiddler lyricist Sheldon Harnick and the kickoff to their own Centennial, the National Yiddish Theatre – Folksbiene was able to assemble ...

Windy City Times

Windy City Times
Wed, 13 Aug 2014 05:25:55 -0700

Playwright: Joseph Stein ( book ), Jerry Bock ( music ), Sheldon Harnick ( lyrics ). At: Light Opera Works, Cahn Auditorium, 600 Emerson St., Evanston. Tickets: 847-920-5360; www.LightOperaWorks.com; $34-$94. Runs through: Aug. 24. A good production of ...

New York Times

New York Times
Thu, 21 Aug 2014 18:07:30 -0700

NORTH STONINGTON The blues musician Taj Mahal will perform on Aug. 24 at 7 p.m. at the Jonathan Edwards Winery, 74 Chester Main Road. Tickets are $50. For further information: (860) 535-0202 or jedwardswinery.com. Credit Dan Harr/Invision.
Daily Herald
Thu, 21 Aug 2014 18:49:41 -0700

“She Loves Me” was written by Joe Masteroff, with lyrics by Sheldon Harnick and music by Jerry Bock. It's set in Budapest in the 1930s, with costuming and sets to match. The premise of the story will likely ring familiar. Boy (Georg) meets girl (Amalia ...
La Crosse Tribune
Wed, 20 Aug 2014 14:56:15 -0700

MTI now offers 30-minute children's versions of many titles, as well as the 60-to-70-minute “junior” versions, all of them done with the permission of their authors or their estates – names like Stephen Sondheim, Jerry Bock, Sheldon Harnick and ...
East Hampton Star
Thu, 21 Aug 2014 10:48:45 -0700

Denis Brunelle, Michael Cinque, Ted Conklin, Eric Fischl, Ms. Gornik, Sheldon Harnick, Charles Hitchcock, Barbara Layton, Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach Jr., David Wilt, and Susan Kennedy Zeller. Ms. Layton, the owner of Babette's restaurant in East Hampton, ...
Wed, 20 Aug 2014 12:10:23 -0700

Helmed by Arena Stage artistic director Molly Smith, the musical, which features a book by Joseph Stein, music by Jerry Bock and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick and is based on Sholem Aleichem stories, will begin previews Oct. 31 prior to an official opening ...

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