Sheldon Harnick, Fiddler on the Roof lyricist (April 30, 1924 – June 23, 2023)

Sheldon Harnick, who died this morning at the age of 99, was a lyricist best-known for “Fiddler on the Roof,” but it was just one of the musicals he wrote with Jerry Bock. In the first video below, recorded at Sardi’s in 2015, he explained how the two worked together. Below that a video from City Center’s 2013 production of “Fiorello,” two videos from the 2016 revival of “She Loves Me” and two from different productions of “Fiddler on the Roof.”


An appreciation by Jesse Green: Harnick was one of the three great lyricists of musical theater in his era (the others were Stephen Sondheim and Fred Ebb.) Only Harnick’s work on Fiddler “was widely known outside the world of theater lovers. But within that world, his subtle craft and character insight were universally acknowledged. Sondheim called his lyrics ‘impeccable.'”

Kate Baldwin sings “When Did I Fall in Love?” from Fiorello!

Tess Primack, Julie Benko, and Jennifer Zetlan sing “Matchmaker” in 2017.

Harnick’s lyrics translated into Yiddish in the Off Broadway production of Fiddler in 2019

Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears

Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

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