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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
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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8232 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 resulted in the hit musicals FIDDLER...

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, discusses how the song "If I Were A Rich...

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 Washington, DC. Droz Commentary:...

She Loves Me - Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick

"She Loves Me" from "She Loves Me." Music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick. Neal Capapas, voice. Aaron Kaplan, cello. Andrei Strizek, piano. www.andreistrizek.com.

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 footage or music featured. All rights...

Sheldon Harnick on L'Chayim

Legendary Broadway lyricist Sheldon Harnick sits to discuss creating one of his favorite musicals and greatest masterpieces, "Fiddler on the Roof". With Mark S. Golub on L'Chayim.

Alex Koshy - 'If I Were A Rich Man' by Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock

Fourteen year old Alex Koshy from Bangalore, India sings this famous song from the 1964 musical 'Fiddler on The Roof'. Alex studies voice with Sandra Oberoi at Harmony Music School.

Sheldon Harnick's Tenderloin

Use Code VIDEO35 for $35.00 Tickets. Come see The York Theatre Company's final Mufti of the Sheldon Harnick Series, Tenderloin. Music by Jerry Bock, Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick and Book by ...

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 and entertaining readers all around...

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 from a 1974 compilation, and is...

8232 videos foundNext > 

1386 news items

Twin Falls Times-News

CL Charlotte
Fri, 27 Mar 2015 07:37:30 -0700

Jerome Robbins, the director of the original 1964 Broadway production, famously called upon the writing team of composer Jerry Bock, lyricist Sheldon Harnick, and playwright Joseph Stein to add an opening song to their creation so that the actions of ...

Pueblo Chieftain

Pueblo Chieftain
Tue, 24 Mar 2015 21:07:30 -0700

“She sang a Sheldon Harnick song called 'Garbage,' ”said the multi-award-winning writer-producer-political activist. “She was standing under a streetlight at night singing about a guy who treated her like garbage. I used to do 'The George Gobel Show ...

The Jewish Week

The Jewish Week
Tue, 10 Mar 2015 15:59:21 -0700

The Folksbiene's Bryna Wasserman, left, and Zalmen Mlotek, right, with lyricist Sheldon Harnick. Michael Priest. It's like the Summer Olympics of Yiddish, without the competition. In a week of back-to-back performances, Yiddish will be heard in multi ...

Toledo Blade

Toledo Blade
Tue, 24 Mar 2015 21:06:55 -0700

“She sang a Sheldon Harnick song called 'Garbage,'” said the multiaward-winning writer-producer-political activist. “She was standing under a streetlight at night singing about a guy who treated her like garbage. I used to do The George Gobel Show, and ...


Wed, 25 Mar 2015 06:41:32 -0700

He claims credit for contacting lyricist Sheldon Harnick and persuading him to update the lyrics to his Fiddler on the Roof song (and wedding staple) "Sunrise, Sunset" to reflect same-sex couples. The York Theatre Company at Saint Peter's Church ...


Sun, 06 Jul 2014 02:11:15 -0700

Sheldon Harnick has been a working lyricist for over 60 years. He shared a Pulitzer Prize for his work on the musical Fiorello! and a Tony Award for Fiddler On The Roof. But he says a career in the theater means writing some songs that, for whatever ...
The Boyne City Gazette
Wed, 25 Mar 2015 11:00:00 -0700

Boyne City's Billy Raveau is leading the cast of the classic romantic comedy musical “She Loves Me,” playing now at Oakland University. The show—which is set in a 1930s perfume shop in Budapest and is based on the play “Parfumerie” by Hungarian ...
UMass Lowell (press release)
Tue, 17 Mar 2015 05:33:45 -0700

The musical – about the life and times of feisty former New York City Mayor Fiorello H. Laguardia – features the songs of Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, the team that penned the music for “Fiddler on the Roof.” Actors in the production include Mara ...

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