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. 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 was 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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick: 'Sunrise, Sunset' (piano transcription)
For fun, a really bizarre published transcription of this famous number from 'Fiddler on the Roof' in a very uptempo form. This anonymous arrangement comes f...
She Loves Him-Kate Baldwin salutes Sheldon Harnick
2010 Tony nominee Kate Baldwin celebrates the work of legendary lyricist and composer Sheldon Harnick. Seven performances only, March 8-12th at Feinstein's a...
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.
Tue, 12 Nov 2013 13:28:35 -0800
EVUSA will premiere Judith Clurman's choral adaptation of Roberto Sierra's Gloria from Missa Latina, give the first public performance of Reason to be Thankful by Larry Hochman (composer) and Sheldon Harnick (librettist), and also perform Songs of ...
Sun, 24 Nov 2013 21:31:30 -0800
The New York Region of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) will honor three outstanding leaders in Broadway entertainment at its celebration The Anti-Defamation League and Broadway: Side by Side Against Hate for 100 Years tonight, Nov. 25, with special ...
Sat, 07 Dec 2013 20:52:30 -0800
No less than Sheldon Harnick, one of the greatest lyricists of Broadway's golden age, praised their work in his liner notes for the show's cast album. "Mr. Sklar has provided a splendidly tuneful score and sustained its exuberance with a wealth of ...
Sun, 08 Dec 2013 00:25:44 -0800
... '60s and '70s, American corporations mounted elaborate musical theater entertainments for their sales conventions — shows with surprisingly catchy songs about the products and consumers (some written by real songwriters like Sheldon Harnick and ...
Sat, 07 Dec 2013 22:11:15 -0800
Sondheim describes “Opening Doors” as the only autobiographical song from his shows because it's about him, and colleagues Jerry Bock, Sheldon Harnick and others, trying to get heard in the 1950s. It is an exuberant number about three fledgling writers ...
New York Times
New York Times
Fri, 06 Dec 2013 08:07:30 -0800
Sholem Aleichem's struggles to adapt his own work for the stage presaged the troubles Robbins, Joseph Stein (book), Sheldon Harnick (lyrics) and Jerry Bock (music) had in creating “Fiddler.” They worried endlessly about creating a work that was too ...
Thu, 05 Dec 2013 20:41:15 -0800
Adapted from Frank Capra's classic 1946 movie, with lyrics by Sheldon Harnick and music by Joe Raposo, it never seemed forced or in a hurry, despite its more than 30 scenes, set in a wide variety of locations, including “heaven.” Bryan Partridge gave a ...
Thu, 05 Dec 2013 14:52:30 -0800
“She Loves Me,” the play that the movie “You've Got Mail” was based on, opens Friday at Renton Civc Theatre. The play, by Joe Masteroff, Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, runs through Dec. 21. It's the story of two feuding European perfumery clerks ...
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