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Harbach [Hauerbach], Otto (Abels )locked

  • Gerald Bordman
  • , revised by Jonas Westover

(b Salt Lake City, UT, Aug 18, 1873; d New York, NY, Jan 24, 1963). American librettist and lyricist. He was educated at Knox College, then taught English for six years at Whitman College before going to New York for further study at Columbia University. In 1902 he became a newspaper journalist and the following year a copywriter for an advertising agency. His friendship with the composer Karl Hoschna led him to try his hand at writing musicals, and their collaboration Three Twins (1908, including the song “Cuddle Up a Little Closer, Lovey Mine”) was a great success. Harbach soon became a prolific writer; he produced over 40 works for Broadway and also wrote occasionally for films. After Hoschna’s death in 1911 he entered into a successful partnership with Rudolf Friml. Many of his best lyrics and librettos, however, were written after 1920 in collaboration with his younger protégé Oscar Hammerstein II. Among his best-known songs are “Rose-Marie” and “Indian Love Call” (Rose-Marie, 1924; written in collaboration with Hammerstein), “The Night Was Made for Love” (The Cat and the Fiddle, 1931), and “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” (Roberta, 1932). Harbach was a founding member of ASCAP and served with it in numerous roles, including president.


(Unless otherwise indicated, all are musicals and librettos and lyrics are by Harbach (H); collaborating librettists and lyricists are listed in that order in parentheses. Dates are those of first New York performance.)

Three Twins (C. Dickson; H), music by K. Hoschna, 15 June 1908 [incl. Cuddle Up a Little Closer, Lovey Mine]

Bright Eyes (Dickson; H), music by Hoschna, 28 Feb 1910

Madame Sherry, music by Hoschna, 30 Aug 1910 [incl. Every Little Movement]

Dr. De Luxe, music by Hoschna, 17 April 1911

The Girl of my Dreams, music by Hoschna, 7 Aug 1911

The Fascinating Widow, music by Hoschna, 11 Sept 1911

The Firefly, music by Friml, 2 Dec 1912 [incl. Giannina (Mia), Love Is Like a Firefly, Sympathy]

High Jinks, music by Friml, 10 Dec 1913 [incl. Something Seems Tingleingleing]

The Crinoline Girl (H; J. Eltinge), music by P. Wenrich, 16 March 1914

Suzi, music by A. Renyi, 3 Nov 1914

Katinka, music by Friml, 23 Dec 1915 [incl. Allah’s Holiday]

You’re in Love (collab. E. Clark), music by Friml, 6 Feb 1917

Kitty Darlin’ (H; collab. P.G. Wodehouse), music by Friml, 7 Nov 1917

Going Up, music by L. Hirsch, 25 Dec 1917 [incl. Going Up, The Tickle Toe]

Tumble In, music by Friml, 24 March 1919

The Little Whopper (H; collab. B. Dudley), music by Friml, 13 Oct 1919

Tickle Me (collab. O. Hammerstein, F. Mandel; collab. Hammerstein), music by H. Stothart, 17 Aug 1920

Mary (collab. Mandel; H), music by Hirsch, 18 Oct 1920 [incl. The Love Nest]

Jimmie (collab. Hammerstein, Mandel; collab. Hammerstein), music by Stothart, 17 Nov 1920

June Love (collab. W.H. Post; B. Hooker), music by Friml, 25 April 1921

The O’Brien Girl (collab. Mandel; H), music by Hirsch, 3 Oct 1921

The Blue Kitten (collab. W.C. Duncan), music by Friml, 13 Jan 1922

Molly Darling (collab. Duncan; P. Cook), music by T. Johnstone, 1 Sept 1922

Wildflower (collab. Hammerstein), music by V. Youmans, Stothart, 7 Feb 1923 [incl. Bambalina, Wildflower]

Jack and Jill (F. Isham; collab. others), music by various composers, 22 March 1923

Kid Boots (collab. W.A. McGuire; J. McCarthy), music by H. Tierney, 31 Dec 1923

Rose-Marie (operetta, collab. Hammerstein), music by Friml, Stothart, 2 Sept 1924 [incl. Indian Love Call, The Mounties, Rose-Marie]

Betty Lee (H; collab. I. Caesar), music by Hirsch, C. Conrad, 25 Dec 1924

No, No, Nanette (collab. Mandel; collab. Caesar), music by Youmans, 16 Sept 1925

Sunny (collab. Hammerstein), music by J. Kern, 22 Sept 1925 [incl. Sunny, Who?]

Song of the Flame (operetta, collab. Hammerstein), music by G. Gershwin, Stothart, 30 Dec 1925 [incl. Song of the Flame]

Kitty’s Kisses (collab. P. Bartholomae; G. Kahn), music by Conrad, 6 May 1926

Criss Cross (collab. A. Caldwell), music by Kern, 12 Oct 1926

The Wild Rose (collab. Hammerstein), music by Friml, 20 Oct 1926

The Desert Song (operetta, collab. Hammerstein, Mandel; collab. Hammerstein), music by S. Romberg, 30 Nov 1926 [incl. The Desert Song, One Alone, The Riff Song, Romance]

Oh, Please! (collab. Caldwell; Caldwell), music by Youmans, 17 Dec 1926

Lucky (collab. B. Kalmar, H. Ruby), music by Kalmar, Ruby, Kern, 22 March 1927

Golden Dawn (collab. Hammerstein), music by E. Kálmán, Stothart, 30 Nov 1927

Good Boy (collab. Hammerstein, H. Myers; Kalmar), music by Kalmar, Ruby, Stothart, 5 Sept 1928

Nina Rosa (H; Caesar), music by Romberg, 20 Sept 1930

The Cat and the Fiddle, music by Kern, 15 Oct 1931 [incl. The Night Was Made for Love, She Didn’t Say Yes, Try to Forget]

Roberta, music by Kern, 18 Nov 1933 [incl. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, The Touch of Your Hand, Yesterdays, You’re Devastating]

Forbidden Melody, music by Romberg, 2 Nov 1936


  • T.S. Hischak: “Otto Harbach,” American Song Lyricists, 1920–1960, ed. P. Furia (Detroit, 2002), 210–18
  • D.A. Jasen: Tin Pan Alley: an Encyclopedia of the Golden Age of American Song (New York, 2003)