E.Y. Harburg

  • Born: (New York City, New York, USA)
  • Died: (West Los Angeles, California, USA) age 84

Edgar Yipsel "Yip" Harburg (born Isidore Hochberg) was an American popular song lyricist and librettist who worked with many well-known composers. He wrote the lyrics to the standards "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" (with Jay Gorney), "April in Paris", and "It's Only a Paper Moon", as well as all of the songs for the film The Wizard of Oz, including "Over the Rainbow". He was known for the social commentary of his lyrics, as well as his liberal sensibilities. He championed racial and gender equality and union politics. He also was an ardent critic of religion.

On Broadway Yip began writing lyrics for multiple revues in the 1930s which included songs that became standards including “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?,” the classic anthem of the Depression (with composer Jay Gorney, 1932) and “April in Paris” (with Vernon Duke, 1932). He wrote lyrics for the satiric Life Begins at 8:40 (1934, with co-lyricist Ira Gershwin and music by Harold Arlen). He also conceived and wrote lyrics for book musicals with political and social themes, including Hooray for What! (1937, with an anti-war theme, music by Arlen) and Bloomer Girl (1944, feminist, anti-racist theme, music by Arlen). He co-wrote the book (with Fred Saidy) and wrote the lyrics for Finian’s Rainbow (1947, music by Burton Lane) which won the Henderson and George Jean Nathan Awards for Best Musical Comedy; for Flahooley (1951, music by Sammy Fain), and for Jamaica, starring Lena Horne (1957, music by Arlen). He conceived the book and wrote the lyrics for The Happiest Girl in the World (1961, a musical version of Lysistrata, music by Jacques Offenbach). His last Broadway lyrics were for Darling of the Day (1968, music by Jule Styne).

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