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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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2147 news items

Broadway World
Thu, 13 Nov 2014 21:26:15 -0800

And in a warm and revealing Special Edition of CUNY TV's ARTS IN THE CITY - FIDDLER AT 50: A Conversation with Sheldon Harnick and Hal Prince - happy memories about the musical's creation are shared by the show's lyricist and original producer.


Fri, 14 Nov 2014 08:26:41 -0800

Joseph Stein, Jerry Bock, and Sheldon Harnick's Fiddler on the Roof opened November 12 on Arena Stage's Fichandler Stage. The production, which is directed by Molly Smith and features choreography by Parker Esse, is set to run through January 4.


Tue, 11 Nov 2014 07:29:35 -0800

Lyricist Sheldon Harnick and producer Hal Prince will share their memories of working on the original production. The broadcast will also feature an interview with Harnick's wife, Margery Gray Harnick. "Like most classics," press notes state, "the idea ...
Washington Post
Fri, 24 Oct 2014 07:12:28 -0700

NEW YORK — The sky over Central Park brightens Sheldon Harnick's living room, a spacious haven more than a dozen floors above Manhattan's streets. Misty, colorful paintings by Harnick's wife, Margery Gray Harnick, line the white walls. On the baby ...
Broadway World
Tue, 11 Nov 2014 22:16:59 -0800

As part of the opening night celebration for Fiddler on the Roof, the iconic musical that has captured the hearts of audiences worldwide for the past 50 years, Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater will present the American Artist Award ...

Evening News and Tribune

Evening News and Tribune
Fri, 21 Nov 2014 11:59:14 -0800

All the familiar characters come to stage life again in Derby Dinner Playhouse's revival of the musical version by “Fiddler on the Roof” lyricist Sheldon Harnick and “Sesame Street” composer Joe Raposo that it presented in 2009 with associate producer ...

Metro Weekly

Metro Weekly
Fri, 21 Nov 2014 06:48:45 -0800

Arena Stage's new 50th anniversary production of the show by Joseph Stein, Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick is an out-and-out revelation. This show, of all shows, seems custom-made for the in-the-round Fichlander Stage. For starters, peering down on the ...

Broadway World

Broadway World
Thu, 20 Nov 2014 21:03:45 -0800

... properties ranging from eventual long-running hit Murray Schisgal's LUV to THE KNACK Off-Broadway to Lillian Hellman's THE LITTLE FOXES, not to mention the Broadway musical THE APPLE TREE, featuring a score by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick.

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