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Sheldon Harnick
Sheldon Harnick.jpg
Background information
Born (1924-04-30) April 30, 1924 (age 89)
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 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.[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 prestigious 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". 
  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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4362 videos foundNext > 

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...

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...

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...

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...

Charlotte Rae sings "The Shape of Things" (by Sheldon Harnick)

Charlotte Rae performs her classic Sheldon Harnick song at the Hollywood Pantages theater to held raise money for the Actor's Fund.

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...

Sheldon Harnick's Dragons

Use Video Code VIDEO35 for $35.00 Tickets (Regular price $45.00) Meet some of the cast of the York's upcoming staged concert of Sheldon Harnick's Dragons. Pe...

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 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...

4362 videos foundNext > 

97 news items

Hartford Courant
Thu, 27 Mar 2014 09:30:00 -0700

Sheldon Harnick, the Tony Award, Pulitzer-Prize-winning lyricist from the golden age of the Broadway musical, will be this year's recipient of the Goodspeed Musicals Award for Outstanding Contribution Musical Theatre. Harnick's shows include "Fiddler ...
The Republic
Wed, 19 Mar 2014 09:52:48 -0700

NEW YORK — Sheldon Harnick has done some extensive spring cleaning and come up with a two-CD box set of very rare tunes. Harbinger Records said Wednesday it will release "Sheldon Harnick: Hidden Treasures, 1949-2013" on May 1 in conjunction ...
Tue, 18 Mar 2014 12:14:49 -0700

Featuring Harvey Fierstein (who played Tevye on Broadway), the musical's coauthor Sheldon Harnick, original Broadway cast member Austin Pendleton, Yiddish theatermaker Jenny Romaine, Hartbeat Ensemble Director of Audience Engagement Taneisha ...
Broadway World
Tue, 25 Mar 2014 11:13:32 -0700

Legendary lyricist and beloved SHELDON HARNICK who magically crafted the lyrics toFiddler on the Roof, Fiorello!, Tenderloin, She Loves Me, among many other timeless classics, announces the release of a special 2 Disc CD set titled, Sheldon Harnick: ...
Broadway World
Tue, 18 Mar 2014 10:44:03 -0700

Last night at Joe's Pub at The Public, Harvey Fierstein, who played a celebrated Tevye in the 2004 revival of Fiddler; Fiddler on the Roof co-creator Sheldon Harnick; original Broadway cast member Austin Pendleton; renowned Yiddish theatermaker Jenny ...
Broadway World
Tue, 15 Apr 2014 08:51:24 -0700

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Fiddler on the Roof, Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning lyricist Sheldon Harnick will be honored and will perform with the largest-ever reunion of original, revival and film cast members as part of an all ...
Washington Observer Reporter
Wed, 19 Mar 2014 09:41:15 -0700

Harbinger Records said Wednesday it will release “Sheldon Harnick: Hidden Treasures, 1949-2013” on May 1 in conjunction with the Tony- and Grammy Award-winning lyricist and writer's 90th birthday. The set will include some 53 demos and songs cut from ...

The Guardian

The Guardian
Sat, 12 Apr 2014 00:06:54 -0700

The televised film not only made Broadway safe for the musical version of Tevye that the young team of Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick were planning, it made it essential that Mostel should star. Still, during the years it took to raise the money for ...

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