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.
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...
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...
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...
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 origi...
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...
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 ...
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 b...
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...
WALTER WILLISON "ARTIFICIAL FLOWERS" by Jerry Bock & Sheldon Harnick
Posted for Sheldon Harnick on the occasion of his 90th Birthday. This performance of "Artificial Flowers", written by Sheldon and composer Jerry Bock for the...
Los Angeles Times
Wed, 17 Dec 2014 17:41:15 -0800
The Laemmles provide lyric sheets for the Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick songs so you can sing along with the irrepressible Topol and the irreplaceable Molly Picon on classics like "Sunrise, Sunset" and "Matchmaker, Matchmaker," not to mention the ...
Wed, 17 Dec 2014 10:57:00 -0800
With a book by Joe Masteroff ("Cabaret") and music and lyrics by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick ("Fiddler on the Roof"), the play's original production was nominated for multiple Tonys. Through Dec. 21, lakewood-center.org. Portland Center Stage's ...
Wed, 17 Dec 2014 11:41:15 -0800
This production of Fiddler on the Roofdoes full justice to Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick's brilliant songs, tells the evocative story with clarity and feeling, and also — uniquely — sounds the musical's deeper, darker chords. The action is set in a ...
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 11:30:29 -0700
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Fiddler on the Roof's Broadway premiere. Lyricist Sheldon Harnick co-wrote the songs for Fiddler, as well as Fiorello!, She Loves Me and Tenderloin. Just in time for his 90th birthday, Harnick has released a new ...
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 ...
Mon, 15 Dec 2014 11:30:00 -0800
Songs include a Spanish "Cantar" by Jay Althouse, "African Noel" by Andre J. Thomas, "Christmas Pipes" by Brendan Graham, "I Saw Three Ships" arranged by Phillip J.J. Stopford, "Everlasting Light – A Chanukah Anthem" by Sheldon Harnick-David L. Shire, ...
U-T San Diego
Thu, 18 Sep 2014 16:32:03 -0700
Even decades after one of his theater works has premiered, Sheldon Harnick has no qualms about (forgive us) fiddling with it. So Harnick, best-known as the lyricist behind the massively popular 1964 musical “Fiddler on the Roof,” is in San Diego County ...
Tue, 16 Dec 2014 07:45:00 -0800
The classic musical-which features music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, and book by Joseph Stein-follows the life of a Jewish dairy farmer named Tevye. Tevye wishes to preserve the traditions and culture of his community, a wish that proves ...
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