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 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.
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 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". Archived from the original on 2012-02-09.
- ^ "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.
L'Chayim: Sheldon Harnick
Legendary Broadway lyricist Sheldon Harnick sits to discuss creating one of his favorite musicals and greatest masterpieces, "Fiddler on the Roof". With Mark S.
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 ...
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 ...
Iain Loves Theatre with Sheldon Harnick
Hear Iain, the world's youngest theatre critic, talk with Sheldon Harnick about York's upcoming production of Rothschild and Sons.
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 knows is ...
Arts in the City: Fiddler at 50: A Conversation with Sheldon Harnick and Hal Prince
Pat Collins hosts this special edition of Arts in the City celebrating the 50th anniversary of Fiddler on the Roof. Featuring candid conversations with original ...
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An impromptu birthday greeting to the great Sheldon Harnick, Broadway Writer, Lyricist and Composer Extraordinaire (Fiddler on the Roof, She Loves Me, ...
Lauren Worsham - "Will He Like Me?" (Jerry Bock/Sheldon Harnick)
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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 ...
Show & Tell: Fiddler on the Roof lyricist Sheldon Harnick
Subscribe for more videos like this: http://youtube.com/subscription_center?add_user=92ndStreetY We visited Fiddler on the Roof lyricist Sheldon Harnick at his ...
Fri, 07 Aug 2015 14:11:15 -0700
Full casting has been announced for the upcoming Goodspeed Musicals production of A Wonderful Life, Sheldon Harnick and Joe Raposo's musical reimagining of the Frank Capra film It's a Wonderful Life. Directed by Michael Perlman, it will run September ...
Sat, 29 Aug 2015 20:56:15 -0700
A different sort of revisiting of an old musical idea comes with Rothschild and Sons, a new, one-act, revision of Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock's 1970 musical The Rothschilds, focusing on the relationships between the patriarch of the family, Mayer ...
Tue, 25 Aug 2015 07:03:45 -0700
While writing Tradition!, journalist Barbara Isenberg interviewed many of the artists who worked on the original Broadway production, the film adaptation, and significant revivals, including Harold Prince, Sheldon Harnick, Joseph Stein, Jerry Bock ...
Fri, 15 May 2015 13:51:20 -0700
But getting to the "final Fiddler" was a fascinating process, and on May 30, 31 and June 1-closing the 2015 Lyrics & Lyricists season-lyricist Sheldon Harnick takes us inside the creation and history of this cultural landmark. Artistic director Rob ...
The San Diego Union-Tribune
The San Diego Union-Tribune
Thu, 20 Aug 2015 13:31:47 -0700
And about four years ago he persuaded Sheldon Harnick, the lyricist behind "Fiddler on the Roof," to write new words for the "Fiddler" song "Sunrise, Sunset" specifically for same-sex weddings. The song, long a popular wedding number, now has versions ...
Wed, 19 Aug 2015 08:22:30 -0700
Featuring a book by Joseph Stein and a score by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, Fiddler on the Roof is inspired by Sholom Alecheim's stories of the milkman Tevye, who tries to hold on to "tradition" as the world around him and his family in the little ...
New York Times
Thu, 28 May 2015 08:30:22 -0700
In a new interview with The New York Times, 91-year-old Sheldon Harnick, the lyricist for Broadway's Fiddler on the Roof, and 87-year-old Harold Prince, the producer of the original production, shared memories of the early days of the iconic musical ...
New York Times
Sun, 31 May 2015 13:53:57 -0700
Celebrating 50 Years of 'Fiddler on the Roof' With Sheldon Harnick,” at the 92nd Street Y, overcame the odds. Hosted by Mr. Harnick, 91, the musical's lyricist, this series' season finale offered a coherent recapitulation of the show's creation. The ...
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