OBITUARY



Sheldon Harnick

1924 – 2023

Sheldon Harnick, who died in June aged 99, was a prolific lyric writer for the Broadway stage. He and his partner, the composer Jerry Bock (1928-2010), to some extent bridged the gap between the heyday of Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein II and the arrival on the scene of Stephen Sondheim. They will be forever remembered for Fiddler On The Roof, which opened at the Imperial Theater in 1964 and ran for eight years. It made a star out of Chaim Topol, who reprised the role of Tevye in the film version, released in 1971; that scored equal success, despite a running time of over three hours.

As a child growing up in Chicago Harnick took violin lessons and wrote songs while still at school. He resolved to work in musical theatre after listening to a recording of Burton Lane and Yip Harburg's Finian's Rainbow and his first song was for the New Faces of 1952 revue. His collaboration with Jerry Bock began in 1958 with The Body Beautiful, which lasted less than two months. Fiorello! the following year was more successful, with a run of 800 performances and three Tony Awards (it shared Best Musical of 1959 with The Sound Of Music). She Loves Me (opening in 1963 on Broadway and 1964 in the West End) was initially a sleeper but has had many revivals since, the title song becoming a big hit for Jack Jones.

Latterly Mr Harnick wrote English libretti for productions of operas including Carmen and The Merry Widow.

Anthony Wills


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