Sheldon Harnick has died

Sheldon Harnic, a NU music grad and the lyricist for numerous Broadway musicals, including Fiddler On The Roof, has died. He was 99.

Sunrise, Sunset…

Mike Nolan

I was fortunate to meet and talk with Sheldon Harnick back in 1991. It was in connection with the opening of the musical play “A Wonderful Life” at the Arena Stage in Washington, DC. My then client, Joey McNeely, was the Choreographer of this musical based on the movie with James Stewart. Sheldon wrote the book and lyrics and Joe Raposo (who wrote the song “It‘s Not Easy Bein’ Green” (Kermit the Frog’s song, which was recorded by Van Morrison and Frank Sinatra, among many others) composed the music.

Sheldon was as warm and welcoming as anyone could hope for, as I told him I was an NU grad and also that when my sister was married at our home, the song “Sunrise Sunset” was the emotional high point. I was so thrilled to have a few minutes to spend with him.

He was a very devoted NU alumnus and truly a great Wildcat. May his memory be for blessing.


Paul H. Levinson

Just a quick note, while I was still playing professionally, I played some his arrangements many times as part of a pit orchestra.

May he rest in peace.


Not exactly on the same topic, but the Tribune has a nice article on Riccardo Muti’s tenure as the Music Director of the CSO, entitled “The Last Maestro”.

Sadly, it is probably true that the era of the conductors who both dominated and defined an orchestra is winding down. What worries me more is that the era of musical criticism as typified by this article might be winding down as well.

Our granddaughter, who is 16, has been studying flute for several years, and to my ear is getting quite good, she recently moved up to a much higher quality instrument. She was asked to take a quick course in piccolo playing ahead of her school’s graduation ceremony this year, because the principal piccolo player was graduating and unable to be in the orchestra.

Unfortunately he was active at the same time as Hammerstein and Sondheim (and Jerry Herman) so he sometimes got lost in the Broadway Lyricist shuffle.

Not only Fiddler, but Fiorello has some of the neatest songs that moved the story forward. Tenderloin, a show that never really made it, had much of the same style songs as Fiorello, and is a really fun show, even if its about “houses of Ill Repute.”

He later worked with Richard Rogers, his daughter Mary, Michel Legrand and Joe Raposo…

What a Life! I envy Neon’s meeting - wish I’d been there.

Go B1GCats


I’ve always thought Fiorello was one of the most under-rated musicals, the music is great, the lyrics are catchy, but nobody outside of the city of New York even thinks about staging it. “Little Tin Box” is a masterpiece and one of my favorite Broadway numbers. (“Fugue for Tinhorns” is another. If I had to pick a third, it would probably be one of the four-part numbers in “The Secret Garden”, I love it when musical and lyrical complexity work well together, and it is something that is rare in modern musical theatre.)

Anything the Male Chorus did in Fiorello was great. The Bum Won is amazing and could have been about the Donald’s win too. And I’ve always loved “Politics and Poker.”

But Fiorello is about a New Yawk Politician who was a giant in the Big Apple, but even there they don’t remember him.