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.
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 ...
Tue, 14 Oct 2014 13:26:15 -0700
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 ...
U-T San Diego
Wed, 24 Sep 2014 18:30:00 -0700
Sheldon Harnick, lyricist for “Fiddler on the Roof,” now 90, had attended school there at the same time as her mother, Mary Jane Meyer Moore, who now resides in an Alpine nursing home. Noble had grown up hearing her mother's recollections of their ...
Tue, 23 Sep 2014 04:15:20 -0700
Many of us are fond of intimate fireside chats, myself included. Last night's Sheldon Harnick: A Conversation & Celebration at San Diego's JCC Garfield Theatre took place on a stage in front of an audience, but the heartfelt exchange between Broadway ...
Thu, 02 Oct 2014 06:52:30 -0700
Sheldon Harnick was in the studio with Peter LeDonne sharing many interesting stories about Fiddler On The Roof in this 50th anniversary year of the musical. Nightlife correspondent Jamie deRoy was also on had to give the listeners a heads up on all ...
U-T San Diego
U-T San Diego
Fri, 10 Oct 2014 09:41:15 -0700
Multi-award-winning lyricist Sheldon Harnick has been writing songs for more than 70 of his 90 years — and he's still going strong. Harnick was at North Coast Repertory Theatre Sept. 22-23 for a two- night staged reading of “Rothschild & Sons,” a ...
Fri, 24 Oct 2014 08:27:42 -0700
Despite consensus that “Fiddler” creators Jerry Bock, Sheldon Harnick and Joseph Stein had Chagall on the brain, there is some dispute about which Chagall works helped coin the title. Chagall's Wikipedia page finds in favor of his 1912 “Le Violoniste,” ...
Thu, 23 Oct 2014 12:44:12 -0700
For some theater people, limelight is clearly a tonic. “Fiddler on the Roof” lyricist Sheldon Harnick still cuts a natty, lively figure — and at 90, he's still writing. Also flaunting stamina — on stages, no less — into their ninth decades: Angela ...
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