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Subscriber: null; date: 20 November 2019

Harnick, Sheldon locked

  • Jessica Hillman

(b Chicago, IL, April 30, 1924). American lyricist. After serving in the Army, he attended Northwestern University, where he studied violin and received a Bachelor of Music degree. His first song on Broadway, for which he wrote both the music and the lyrics, appeared in New Faces of 1952. After teaming with composer Jerry Bock on The Body Beautiful (1958), Harnick concentrated on lyrics only for a string of highly successful Broadway musicals featuring Bock’s tuneful music and Harnick’s character-driven lyrics. The pair gained acclaim when Fiorello (1959), about the charismatic titular mayor of New York, won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Their most acclaimed collaboration, Fiddler on the Roof (1964), often considered the last of the “Golden Age” musicals, for a time became the longest running musical on Broadway before it closed in 1972. Other works include Tenderloin (1960), She Loves Me (1963), The Apple Tree (1966), and The Rothschilds (1970). After this last work the team severed their working relationship, but they reunited to write one last song, “Topsy Turvy” for the Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof (2004). After his partnership with Bock disintegrated, Harnick worked with several different composers, including Michael Legrand and Richard Rodgers, with whom he wrote Rex (1976). He has worked as a translator, an opera librettist, and an occasional composer, writing the theme songs for two films and the musical Dragons, for which he created the book, music, and lyrics. He has received three Antoinette Perry (Tony) awards.


  • R. Altman and M. Kaufman: The Making of a Musical (New York, 1971)
  • P. Lambert: To Broadway, To Life!: the Musical Theater of Bock and Harnick (New York, 2011)