Biography All Music Guide
All Music Guide:
Sheldon Harnick worked with songwriter Jerry Bock on several Broadway success stories of the 1950s and '60s, including Fiddler on the Roof and Fiorello! Born in Chicago in 1924, Harnick played violin from an early age and learned about theater from his acting uncle. During high school, he also began writing comedy material, and after being drafted into the Army in 1943, performed on several USO shows. He later studied at Northwestern, then moved to New York to pursue his songwriting career. He began writing for two early-'50s shows, New Faces of 1952 and Two's Company, and after a disappointing period pursuing the pop market, met composer Jerry Bock while doing repairs for a show in 1956. Their first score, the moderate success The Body Beautiful, was followed by the 1959 hit Fiorello! Tenderloin (1960) and She Loves Me (1963) followed before the team's biggest hit, Fiddler on the Roof, appeared in 1964. Led by "Tradition," "Sunrise, Sunset," "Do You Love Me?," "Now I Have Everything," "Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Find Me a Match," the show aired more than 3,000 performances on Broadway and earned dozens of awards including a Tony for Harnick's book. The Apple Tree and The Rothchilds were worthy follow-ups (though commercial disappointments), and Harnick recorded an album in 1971 including his own performances of his best lyrics. A bit of friction between Harnick and Bock during The Rothchilds proved the death knell of their partnership; Harnick later worked with Richard Rodgers on Rex, and continued to be involved in the theater world.