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Encyclopedia > E.Y. Harburg

E. Y. "Yip" Harburg (April 8, 1896 - March 5, 1981) was a lyricist who worked with many well-known composers.

Born Isidore Hochberg to immigrant parents on the Lower East Side of New York, his name was changed to Edgar Harburg. He is best known by his nickname, Yip Harburg: Yip is short for yipsel, meaning squirrel. He attended Townsend Harris High School where he and Ira Gershwin worked on the school paper and became life-long friends. They went on to attend City College (later part of the City University of New York) together. After graduation, Harburg worked as a journalist in South America, then returned to New York where he became co-owner of Consolidated Electrical Appliance Company. The company went bankrupt following the crash of 1929, and Ira Gershwin introduced Yip to Jay Gorney. He collaborated with Gorney on songs for a Broadway review (Earl Carroll's Sketchbook): the show was successful and Harburg was engaged as lyricist for a series of successful reviews, including Americana in 1932, for which he wrote the lyrics to Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?, which became an anthem of the Depression. Harburg and Gorney were offered a contract with Paramount: in Hollywood, Harburg worked with composers Harold Arlen, Vernon Duke, Jerome Kern, Jule Styne, and Burton Lane, and wrote the lyrics for The Wizard of Oz. He was blacklisted for his left-wing political activity in the 1940s: no longer able to work in Hollywood, he returned to New York, where he began to write a series of book musicals with social messages, including Bloomer Girl and Finian's Rainbow.

Harburg was inducted into the Songwriters' Hall of Fame in 1972


Broadway Reviews

  • Earl Carroll's Sketchbook - 1929
  • Americana - 1932

Broadway Musicals

  • Bloomer Girl - 1944
  • Finian's Rainbow - 1947
  • Flahooley - 1951
  • Jamaica - 1957


External links

  • Harburg's page (http://www.songwritershalloffame.org/exhibit_home_page.asp?exhibitId=14) on the Songwriters' Hall of Fame site



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