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...
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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...
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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 kno...
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She Loves Me - Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick
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Thu, 29 Jan 2015 08:41:15 -0800
Recently, lyricist Sheldon Harnick, visited Elisabeth Morrow School to host an exclusive master class with theater students. With a career spanning over 50 years, Harnick is responsible for some of the greatest and well-known compositions in musical ...
Sat, 31 Jan 2015 19:45:00 -0800
In the Jerry Bock, Sheldon Harnick, and Joseph Stein's musical “Fiddler on the Roof,” Tevye, the principal character, notes that “without tradition, we're as shaky as a fiddler on the roof.” Point well taken. Certain rituals and traditions cement ...
Wed, 30 Apr 2014 11:22:30 -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 ...
Jewish United Fund
Jewish United Fund
Thu, 29 Jan 2015 13:00:00 -0800
Bikel begins-appropriately enough-with a scene from Sholem Aleichem's "Modern Children" which is the third of the eight Tevye stories (the one about Tzeitel and Motel). This is followed by appreciative remarks from Sheldon Harnick (the genius who wrote ...
Heritage Florida Jewish News
Heritage Florida Jewish News
Fri, 30 Jan 2015 08:30:00 -0800
The inaugural show, "Fiddler on the Roof," with music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, and a book by Joseph Steinis, is a classic tale of prerevolutionary Russia and a Jewish peasant who contends with marrying off three of his daughters while ...
Tue, 27 Jan 2015 23:02:53 -0800
“Fiddler on the Roof,” with music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick and a book by Joseph Stein, is based on Sholem Aleichem's stories about “Tevye the Dairyman.” Tevye is the father of five daughters and lives in the small, fictional Jewish ...
Wicked Local Swampscott
Fri, 23 Jan 2015 09:41:07 -0800
And there's a Sheldon Harnick connection earlier than that. The younger Tarmy debuted with MLT when he was 8 years old, standing at his father's side as the Innkeeper's Son in Harnick's “Fiddler on the Roof.” And talking about “tradition,” Evan is the ...
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