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 was born to American Jewish parents and grew up in the Chicago neighborhood of Portage Park. Yiddish was rarely spoken in the home, mostly as a way of telling secrets between parents.
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 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.
- ^ "Words into Song". Northwestern. Retrieved February 12, 2016.
- ^ "Conversation with Sheldon Harnick". Connecticut Jewish Ledger. Retrieved February 12, 2016.
- ^ "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.
New York Post
New York Post
Sat, 16 Jan 2016 16:46:16 -0800
Sheldon Harnick's heard a lot of Tevyes in his time — he did, after all, write the lyrics for “Fiddler on the Roof.” And he's seen it everywhere, even at a Bed-Stuy school whose students were black and Puerto Rican. “The kid who played Tevye there was ...
Sat, 13 Feb 2016 10:52:15 -0800
Sheldon Harnick & Jerry Bock, "Do You Love Me?" Maybe it's indigestion, but Tevye and Golde ponder it, question it, then after 25 years finally declare their love in this tender moment from "Fiddler on the Roof." A true valentine for real life. Roberta ...
Bennington Banner (subscription)
Thu, 11 Feb 2016 17:41:15 -0800
... will be performed Sunday, March 13 at 3 p.m.; "Pick Yourself Up," an afternoon of songs with lyrics by Broadway and Hollywood greats Dorothy Fields and Sheldon Harnick, will be given Sunday, April 10 at 3 p.m. Oldcastle Theatre is located at 331 ...
Tue, 05 Jan 2016 09:05:05 -0800
With “Fiddler On The Roof” back on Broadway with Danny Burstein as Tevye the Milkman, I asked the musical's 91-year-young lyricist Sheldon Harnick for his review of this production. “I think this one is outstanding,” he said. “I have mixed feelings ...
Thu, 11 Feb 2016 19:56:15 -0800
... Loves Me,” with book, lyrics and music by Broadway award-winning legends Joe Masteroff, Sheldon Harnick, and Jerry Bock; and give a talented groups of WHRHS theater arts actors, singers and musicians opportunities to perform before a live audience.
Fri, 12 Feb 2016 14:30:00 -0800
A beloved theatrical classic from Tony Award-winner Joseph Stein, and Pulitzer Prize- winners Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, Fiddler on the Roof is directed by Tony Award-winner Bartlett Sher (South Pacific, The King and I); choreographed by the ...
New York Times
New York Times
Fri, 20 Nov 2015 04:00:57 -0800
“Doing what?” Sheldon Harnick asked, seemingly startled by the suggestion. The 91-year-old lyricist, a musical theater luminary best known for “Fiddler on the Roof,” was sitting on his couch at the Beresford, the stately Upper West Side apartment ...
Thu, 07 Jan 2016 14:01:14 -0800
"A Conversation With Sheldon Harnick" will follow Jan. 23 from 12:30-1:30 PM. The veteran lyricist will speak about his 50-plus years in the theatre, as two of his most popular musicals – Fiddler on the Roof and She Loves Me – return to Broadway this ...
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