This #WhateverWednesday post is going to be quick: Sheldon Harnick, lyricist for Fiddler on the Roof, Fiorello!, The Rothschilds, and many other shows, celebrated his 90th birthday on April 30, 2014 (the same year that Fiddler turned 50). Two exciting things have happened in connection with his birthday:
- Terry Gross interviewed Sheldon Harnick on her show, Fresh Air, on NPR. It’s a fascinating 40-minute interview that includes not only Harnick’s stories about his career as a lyricist but also songs that were written for, and then pulled from, shows, including the song that was originally intended to open Fiddler. Those songs are sung by Jerry Bock (composer) and Harnick (lyrics), which makes them even more special. This interview is well worth a listen: NPR’s Fresh Air: At 90, “Fiddler” Lyricist Tells His Story.
- Co-produced by Harbinger Records and The Musical Theater Project, a new 2-CD set has been released featuring:
53 demos and cut songs from 17 shows including Fiddler on the Roof, She Loves Me, Fiorello!, The Apple Tree and The Rothschilds as well as rarities from The Body Beautiful, Trafalgar, Smiling the Boy Fell Dead, Rex and A Wonderful Life. With a Foreword by Harold Prince, and spotlighting archival performances by Sheldon Harnick, Audra McDonald, Brian d’Arcy James, Hugh Martin, Margery Gray, Charlotte Rae and more, this superb collection (with extensive liner notes) unearths the hidden gems of the Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning lyricist. Reflecting on the release, producers Bill Rudman and Ken Bloom note: “Exploring Sheldon’s lesser-known songs over the past two years has been a labor of love for us. He is a true mensch–and a man with more than a touch of the poet. The two CDs make for delightful listening! The package includes a 60-page booklet.
Of course, I bought the CD set. If you’re not in the market for the full set of of historical tunes, however, you can always order individual tracks from amazon.com.