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. 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. 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 to keep doing more. He gave him some advice, like work with a lot of composers and also if writing for Broadway, write character and comic songs, not ballads (Harnick followed both tips). Harburg told him to follow those steps because his old partner, Jay Gorney, had told them ballads were the key to success on Broadway.
Around 1956, Harnick met Jerry Bock, forming "what is arguably the most important musical partnership of the '60s."  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."
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. He wrote the book, music and lyrics to the musical Dragons, which was performed in 2003 at the Luna Stage (Montclair, New Jersey). 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.
Honors and awards
- In 1960, Harnick, Bock and Jerome Weidman (book) won the Pulitzer Prize in Drama for Fiorello!.
- 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.
- In honor of Harnick's vast influence on American music, on May 19, 1984 he was awarded the prestigious University of Pennsylvania Glee Club Award of Merit. 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.
- 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.
- ^ 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.
- ^ "Biography of Sheldon Harnick". MTI Shows. Retrieved March 2, 2012.
- ^ http://www.playbill.com/features/article/183726-Sheldon-Harnick-Approaching-90-Fiddler-Lyricist-Recalls-a-Mentor/pg2?tsrc=nx
- ^ a b "Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick". Broadway:The American Musical. PBS.org. Retrieved March 2, 2012.
- ^ "'Coyote Tales' listing" henrymollicone.com, accessed March 4, 2012
- ^ Jones, Kenneth."Sheldon Harnick's Musical, 'Dragons', Roars in NJ Starting Nov. 13; Harnick in the House for Opening" playbill.com, November 13, 2003
- ^ "'The Phantom Tollbooth' listing" kennedy-center.org, accessed March 4, 2012
- ^ "The Pulitzer Prize, Drama". Pulitzer.org. Retrieved March 2, 2012.
- ^ "Sheldon Harnick". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved March 2, 2012.
- ^ "The University of Pennsylvania Glee Club Award of Merit Recipients".
- ^ "The William Inge Theatre Festival". Retrieved March 2, 2012.
- ^ 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.
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...
Norman Jewison and Sheldon Harnick discuss Fiddler on the Roof's music
Norman Jewison and lyricist, Sheldon Harnick discuss the music of Fiddler on the Roof. Norman Jewison was recently honored by The Film Society of Lincoln Cen...
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...
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...
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 kno...
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...
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.
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...
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...
Jeffrey Lyons introduces Sheldon Harnick - FHM To Life 2013
Renowned film and television critic, Jeffrey Lyons, gives his introductory speech for songwriter and lyricist, Sheldon Harnick, at the Florida Holocaust Muse...
Tue, 04 Mar 2014 11:07:30 -0800
The York Theatre Company's Winter 2014 Musicals in Mufti series, celebrating the work of Broadway lyricist Sheldon Harnick, concludes with a production of Tenderloin, featuring a book by George Abbott and Jerome Weidman, music by Jerry Bock, and lyrics ...
Wall Street Journal
Thu, 20 Feb 2014 18:26:15 -0800
Sheldon and Margery Harnick in the home they have shared on Manhattan's Upper West Side for nearly 50 years. Mr. Harnick finds inspiration while seated in a leather chair, away from the window. Rebecca Greenfield for The Wall Street Journal.
Wed, 26 Feb 2014 07:24:45 -0800
The evening will honor Sheldon Harnick, the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning lyricist behind the iconic musical. The evening will be hosted by BD Wong. Performers include Kate Baldwin, Stephanie J. Block, Len Cariou, Linda Lavin, Megan McGinnis, ...
Tue, 11 Feb 2014 12:21:22 -0800
Sheldon Harnick Discusses Musicals In Mufti Series Of Shows Legendary FIDDLER ON THE ROOF composer Sheldon Harnick discusses the upcoming series of five shows spotlighting his work as part of Musicals In Mufti, having kicked off last month and ...
Sat, 22 Feb 2014 14:18:45 -0800
The York Theatre Company continues the Winter 2014 Musicals in Mufti Series Celebrating Sheldon Harnick with Smiling, The Boy Fell Dead with Book by Ira Wallach, Music by David Baker, and Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick. The creative team includes director ...
Sat, 08 Mar 2014 07:45:00 -0800
The York Theatre Company concludes the Winter 2014 Musicals in Mufti Series Celebrating Sheldon Harnick with the 1960 musical, Tenderloin, that has Book by George Abbott and Jerome Weidman, Music by Jerry Bock, and Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick.
Sentinel and Enterprise
Sat, 08 Mar 2014 04:00:00 -0800
It will represent the fifth revival of the show, which features lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, music by Jerry Bock and a story by Joseph Stein. There was no word on casting, although Bartlet Sher will direct and choreography will be by Hofesh Shechter ...
Thu, 06 Mar 2014 12:26:15 -0800
It will represent the fifth revival of the show, which features lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, music by Jerry Bock and a story by Joseph Stein. There was no word on casting, although Bartlett Sher will direct and choreography will be by Hofesh Shechter ...
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