SHELDON HARNICK was born, raised and educated in Chicago. After serving in the army for three years during World War II, he went to Northwestern University in preparation for a career as a violinist. While at Northwestern, he contributed songs to the annual student revue, the Waa-Mu show. After working as a professional violinist in and around Chicago, Mr. Harnick relocated to New York in 1950 to pursue a career in the musical theater.
His first song for a Broadway show was “The Boston Beguine” for “New Faces of 1952”, after which he continued to contribute songs to revues both on and off Broadway. His notable collaboration with composer Jerry Bock yielded seven Broadway musicals: “The Body Beautiful” (1958); “Fiorello” (1959, Tony Award, Pulitzer Prize); “Tenderloin” (1960); “She Loves Me” (1963, Grammy Award); “Fiddler on the Roof”(1964, Tony Award); “The Apple Tree”(1966) and “The Rothchilds” (1970). The team also provided songs for the 1964 New York World’s Fair musical “To Broadway with Love”.
With other composers, Mr. Harnick created scores for “Smiling the Boy Fell Dead” (David Baker, 1961); “Rex” (Richard Rodgers, 1976); “A Christmas Carol” (Michael Legrand, 1981); “A Wonderful Life” (Joe Raposo, 1986); “The Phantom Tollbooth” (Arnold Black/ Norton Juster, 1995) and “The Audition” (Marvin Hamlisch, 2006). For “Dragons” and “A Doctor in Spite of Himself”, Mr. Harnick provided book, lyrics and music. He has written songs for the films “The Heartbreak Kid” and “Blame it on Rio” with Cy Coleman, and “Aaron’s Magic Village” with Michael Legrand.
Mr. Harnick has written opera libretti for composer Jack Beeson (“Dr. Heidegger’s Fountain of Youth”, et al), Henry Mollicone (“Coyote Tales”), Thomas Z. Shepard (“Love in Town Countries”) and for his own “Frustration”. His translations have included Bizet’s “Carmen”, Ravel’s “L’enfant et les Sortileges”; Stravinski’s “L’Historie du Soldat”and Lehar’s “The Merry Widow” (Grammy Award: best new opera recording, 1978, featuring Beverly Sills), as well as “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” by Michel Legrand and Jacques Demy.
Besides his Tony Awards and Pulitzer Prize, he has won two Grammy Awards, two New York Drama Critics Circle Awards, three gold records and a platinum record. Mr. Harnick resides in New York with his wife, artist/performer Margery Gray Harnick. Their children, Beth and Matthew, live respectively in Malibu and East Hampton.
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