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 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 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...
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...
Sheldon Harnick Conversation
See snippets of the Sheldon Harnick Conversation at The York Theatre Company. February 10th, 2014.
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...
York Theatre Company Presents Dragons - Sheldon Harnick
Use Video Code VIDEO35 for $35.00 Tickets (Regular Price: $45.00) The Second Show of The York Theatre Company's MUFTI Series celebrating the works of Sheldon...
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...
Sheldon Harnick 90th Birthday Greeting!
An impromptu birthday greeting to the great Sheldon Harnick, Broadway Writer, Lyricist and Composer Extraordinaire (Fiddler on the Roof, She Loves Me, Fiorel...
Dave's Gone By Interview (1/27/08): SHELDON HARNICK
Topics: Broadway, Fiddler on the Roof, She Loves Me, Fiorello, The Rothschilds, The Apple Tree Segment originally aired in two parts -- Jan. 27, 2008 & Feb. ...
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 ...
Thu, 10 Jul 2014 09:59:53 -0700
A Broadway musical about a Jewish shtetl, a Russian pogrom and a poor milkman who talks to God? Sounds crazy, no? "To us it was simply the next show to do," says Sheldon Harnick, who wrote the lyrics to the show that would become the beloved ...
Mon, 21 Jul 2014 06:07:30 -0700
Tradition also is one of the things that keeps audiences coming back year after year to see FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, the Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick musical that has been playing Broadway revivals, anchoring community theater seasons and giving kids ...
Sun, 20 Jul 2014 05:45:00 -0700
Each year, Long Beach Playhouse closes its Mainstage Season with a musical. This year it's presenting the popular classic, FIDDLER ON THE ROOF with music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, and book by Joseph Stein. When it opened on ...
Wed, 16 Jul 2014 12:52:30 -0700
“Fiddler on the Roof,” which will run through July 27 at Beach Haven's Surflight Theatre, is one of the best-conceived shows in the history of musical theater. Jerry Bock's beautiful and often haunting music harmonizes wonderfully with Sheldon Harnick ...
Fri, 18 Jul 2014 07:37:30 -0700
Its score, written and composed by Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock, somehow seems to be familiar not only to those who have somehow never seen it, but also those who never go to musicals at all. Audiences this summer will have opportunities to hear such ...
Thu, 17 Jul 2014 14:33:45 -0700
What you should know about this production: The classic musical, with music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, and book by Joseph Stein, is celebrating its 50th anniversary of opening on Broadway. Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka Jr. Company: Children's ...
Kelowna Capital News
Fri, 18 Jul 2014 12:18:45 -0700
The score with a book by Joseph Stein, music by Jerry Bock and Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick celebrates 50 years in 2014. It boasts the beloved songs "If I Were a Rich Man," "Sunrise, Sunset," "Matchmaker" and many more. Director Karlisa Hiebert makes her ...
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