E. Y. Harburg

E. Y. Harburg

Infobox Actor
name = Yip Harburg
birthname = Isidore Hochberg
birthdate = birth date|1896|4|8
location = New York City, New York
deathdate = death date and age|1981|3|4|1896|4|8
deathplace = Sunset Boulevard
academyawards = Best Original Song
1939 "The Wizard of Oz"
for "Over the Rainbow"

Edgar Yipsel Harburg (April 8 1896March 4 1981), best known as Yip Harburg, was an American lyricist who worked with many well-known composers. He is best known for writing the lyrics to "The Wizard of Oz", including those of "Over the Rainbow".


Harburg was born Isidore Hochberg to immigrant Jewish parents on the Lower East Side of New York City. His nickname was "Yipsel" often shortened to "Yip". Contrary to popular belief, "Yipsel" is not a Yiddish word, but rather the pronunciation of "YPSL", which, in turn stood for Young People's Socialist League. Later he adopted the name Edgar Harburg, He was best known as Edgar "Yip" Harburg. He attended Townsend Harris High School, where he and Ira Gershwin, who met over a shared fondness for Gilbert and Sullivan, 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. [ [http://www.42ndstmoon.com/History/Harburg.html Spotlight on E. Y. Harburg] ]

After graduating from university, Harburg spent three years in Uruguay to avoid involvement in World War I, which he opposed as a committed socialist. There he worked as a factory supervisor. After the war he returned to New York, married and had two children and started writing light verse for local newspapers. He became co-owner of Consolidated Electrical Appliance Company. The company went bankrupt following the crash of 1929, leaving Harburg "anywhere from $50,000 - $70,000 in debt," [ [http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=04/11/25/0832252 Democracy Now article 25, November, 2004] ] which he insisted on paying back over the course of the next few decades. At this point, Ira Gershwin and Yip Harburg agreed that Yip should start writing song lyrics.

Gershwin introduced Harburg to Jay Gorney, who collaborated with him on songs for an Earl Carroll 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 of "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" to the tune of a lullaby Gorney had learned as a child in Russia. This song swept the nation, becoming an anthem of the Great Depression.

ome of his lyrics

A good example of his clever lyrics is in the "Riddle Me This?" (music by Lewis Gensler) (a song sung in a Casino setting) from Ballyhoo of 32;

Love a little, sin a little;play the game and win a little;only to lose.

Listen to the money jingle;isn't it a funny chingle;ending with blues.

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" for which he won the Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song for "Over the Rainbow".

Another excellent example of his lyric brilliance is the obscure song "Down With Love" from the 1937 show 'Horray For What?" (music by Harold Arlen):

Down with love, flowers and rice and shoes. Down with love, the root of all midnight blues. Down with things that give you that well-known pain. Take that moon and wrap it in cellophane!

Down with love, let’s liquidate all its friends: Moon and June and roses and rainbow’s ends. Down with songs that moan about night and day. Down with love, just take it away, away.

Away. Take it away. Give it back to the birds and bees and the Viennese!

Down with eyes, romantic and stupid, Down with sighs, down with cupid. Brother, let’s stuff that dove! Down with love!

Of his work on "The Wizard of Oz", his son (and biographer) Ernie Harburg said, [ [http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=04/11/25/0832252 Democracy Now article 25, November, 2004] ]

Working in Hollywood did not stop Harburg's career on Broadway. In the 40s he wrote a series of "book" musicals with social messages, including the very successful "Bloomer Girl" (1944) (about temperance and women's rights activist Amelia Bloomer) and his most famous Broadway show, "Finian's Rainbow" (1947) (perhaps the first Broadway musical with a racially integrated chorus line, featuring Harburg's "When the Idle Poor Become the Idle Rich").


During the McCarthy era, from about 1951 to 1962, Yip Harburg was a victim of the Hollywood blacklist when movie studio bosses blacklisted industry people for suspected involvement or sympathy with the American Communist Party. No longer able to work in Hollywood, he nevertheless continued to write musicals for Broadway, among which was "Jamaica", which featured Lena Horne.


He died on March 4 1981 in an automobile accident on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. [cite news |first= |last= |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=E.Y. (Yip) Harburg, Lyricist, 84, Dies. Did 'Wizard of Oz,' 'Finian's Rainbow. |url= |quote=E.Y. (Yip) Harburg, 84, the lyricist who wrote the words to such classic songs as "April in Paris," "It's Only a Paper Moon" and the "Wizard of Oz" song "Over the Rainbow," died Thursday in an automobile accident on Sunset Boulevard. |publisher=Washington Post |date=March 7 1981 |accessdate=2008-06-18 ]


In 1940 Harburg won an Oscar, shared with Harold Arlen, for Best Music, Original Songfor "The Wizard of Oz", (1939). In addition, he was nominated for an Oscar for Best Music, Original Song, along with Arlen,for "Cabin in the Sky", (1943) and Best Music, Original Songfor "Can't Help Singing", shared with Jerome Kern in (1944). [cite web
title=Awards for E.Y. Harburg

Harburg was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1972; nine years later (1981) he died in a Los Angeles car accident. In April 2005, the United States Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp recognizing his accomplishments. The stamp is drawn from a portrait taken by photographer Barbara Bordnick in 1978 along with a rainbow and lyric from "Over the Rainbow". The first day ceremony was held at the 92nd Street Y in New York.

In 1998 Harburg received a pop culture credit by having a ship's captain named after him in the "Wizard of Oz"-themed "X-Files" episode entitled "Triangle".


*"Over the Rainbow"
*"Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" with composer Jay Gorney in 1932
*"Cabin in the Sky" with Harold Arlen, 1943
*"Bloomer Girl" with Harold Arlen, 1944
*"April in Paris"
*"It's Only a Paper Moon"
*"Lydia the Tattooed Lady"
*"How Are Things in Glocca Morra?"
*"Old Devil Moon"
*"Then I'll Be Tired of You"
*"When the Idle Poor Become the Idle Rich"
*"Down with Love"

Broadway revues

*"Earl Carroll's Sketchbook of 1929" (1929) - co-composer and co-lyricist with Jay Gorney
*"Garrick Gaieties" (1930) - contributing lyricist
*"Earl Carroll's Vanities of 1930" (1930) - contributing songwriter
*"The Vanderbilt Revue" (1930) - contributing lyricist
*"Ziegfeld Follies of 1931" (1931) - featured lyricist for "Mailu"
*"Shoot the Works" (1931) - contributing composer and lyricist
*"Ballyhoo of 1932" (1932) - lyricist
*"Americana" (1932) - lyricist. The Revue include "Brother Can You Spare a Dime?"
*"Walk A Little Faster" (1932) - lyricist
*"Ziegfeld Follies of 1934" (1934) - primary lyricist (for about half of the numbers)
*"Life Begins at 8:40" (1934) - co-lyricist with Ira Gershwin
*"The Show is On" (1936) - featured lyricist
*"Blue Holiday" (1945) - all-Black cast - contributing composer and lyricist
*"At Home With Ethel Waters" (1953) - featured lyricist for "Happiness is Jes' a Thing Called Joe"

Post-retirement or posthumous credits:
*"A Day in Hollywood / A Night in the Ukraine" (1980) - featured lyricist for "Over the Rainbow"
*"Jerome Kern Goes to Hollywood" (1986) - featured lyricist to music by Jerome Kern
*"Mostly Sondheim" (2002) - featured lyricist

Broadway musicals

*"Hooray For What!" (1937) - lyricist and originator
*"Hold on to Your Hats" (1940) - lyricist
*"Bloomer Girl" (1944) - lyricist, originator and director for musical numbers
*"Finian's Rainbow" (1947) - lyricist, originator and co-bookwriter
**Revived in 1955, 1960
*"Flahooley" (1951) - lyricist, originator and co-bookwriter
*"Jamaica" (1957) - lyricist, originator and co-bookwriter - Tony Nomination for Best Musical
*"The Happiest Girl in the World" (1961) - originator and lyricist to music by Jacques Offenbach and originator of the story, based on "Lysistrata" by Aristophanes
*"Darling of the Day" (1968) - lyricist


*"Moonlight and Pretzels" - 1933
*"The Singing Kid" - 1936
*"Golddiggers of 1937" - 1936
*"The Wizard of Oz" - 1939
*"At the Circus" - 1939
*"Babes on Broadway" - 1941
*"Ship Ahoy" - 1942
*"Cabin in the Sky" - 1943 Harburg's song "Aint It The Truth" expressing religious skepticism was removed [* [http://www.ffrf.org/radio/podcast/ April 29, 2006 - Somewhere Over the Rainbow . . . Rhymes for the Irreverent] Freedom From Religion Foundation's Podcast 22:10]
*"Can't Help Singing" - 1944
*"Gay Purr-ee" - 1962
*"Finian's Rainbow"


*"Rhymes for the Irreverent" (1965)
*"At This Point in Rhyme" (1976)
*"Over the Rainbow" (2000)


Further reading

*Harburg, Ernie. "Who Put the Rainbow in the Wizard of Oz: Yip Harburg Lyricist", University of Michigan Press, (1993). ISBN 0-472-10482-9

External links

* [http://www.usps.com/communications/news/stamps/2005/sr05_021.htm Biography of Harburg from USPS]
* [http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=04/11/25/0832252 Extended audio/print interview with Ernie Harburg, Yip's son and biographer]
*Shof|id=14|Yip Harburg
* [http://www.yipharburg.com The Yip Harburg Foundation]
*imdb name|id=0361971|name= E. Y. Harburg
* [http://www.nypl.org/research/manuscripts/the/theeyhar.xml E. Y. Harburg papers (first installment)] and [http://www.nypl.org/research/manuscripts/the/theharburg1.xml E. Y. Harburg papers (second installment)] in the [http://www.nypl.org/research/lpa/the/the.html Billy Rose Theatre Collection] of [http://www.nypl.org/research/lpa/lpa.html The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts] .
* [http://www.nypl.org/research/manuscripts/music/musharburg.xml E. Y. Harburg scores] (his personal collection) in the [http://www.nypl.org/musicdiv Music Division] of [http://www.nypl.org/research/lpa/lpa.html The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts] .
*amg|id=11:jnfyxqe5ldhe|label=Yip Harburg
* [http://www.ffrf.org/news/2006/harburg.php Celebrated Lyricist Yip Harburg's "Rhymes For The Irreverent" Released] February 2, 2006 article on The Freedom From Religion Foundation's website
* [http://www.ffrf.org/radio/podcast/ April 29, 2006 - Somewhere Over the Rainbow . . . Rhymes for the Irreverent] Freedom From Religion Foundation's Podcast

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Harburg — bezeichnet in der Geografie: in Deutschland: in Bayern: Harburg (Schwaben), Stadt im Landkreis Donau Ries Harburg (Pilsting), Ortsteil von Pilsting im Landkreis Dingolfing Landau in Hamburg: Bezirk Harburg, Verwaltungsbezirk Hamburg Harburg,… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Harburg-Wilhelmsburg — Stadtwappen 1927 1938 Harburg Wilhelmsburg war eine Stadt in der preußischen Provinz Hannover, im Regierungsbezirk Lüneburg. Sie wurde 1927 durch Vereinigung des Stadtkreises Harburg, mit den darin eingegliederten Gemeinden Heimfeld und Wilsto …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Harburg — Harburg,   Name von geographischen Objekten:    1) Harburg, südliche Stadtbezirk von Hamburg, an der Süderelbe, 160 km2, 194 800 Einwohner; umfasst 18 Stadtteile, darunter die ehemalige selbstständige Stadt Harburg, die durch Straßen und… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Harburg (Souabe) — Harburg …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Harburg-Wilhelmsburg — was a city in the Prussian Province of Hanover briefly in existence from 1927 and 1937, resulting from the merger of the cities of Harburg and Wilhelmsburg. In 1937, Harburg Wilhelmsburg, along with the cities from the Prussian Province of… …   Wikipedia

  • Harburg (disambiguation) — Harburg may refer to:Locations* Harburg, Hamburg, a borough of Hamburg and a former city now the quarter in this borough * the District of Harburg, Lower Saxony * Harburg, Bavaria, a city in BavariaPeople* Yip Harburg, US lyricist …   Wikipedia

  • Harburg — Harburg, 1) Stadt (Stadtkreis) im preuß. Regbez. Lüneburg, an der Süderelbe (s. Karte »Umgebung von Hamburg«), am Rande der Marsch und am Ostabfall eines sich hier erhebenden, bis 148 m hohen Landrückens, 3,55–35 m ü. M., hat 2 evangelische und… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • HARBURG, E.Y. — HARBURG, E.Y. (Edgar Yip ; Isidore Hochberg; 1898–1981), U.S. songwriter. Born in New York to Orthodox Jewish parents, Harburg graduated from City College in 1921. After traveling through Latin America working for newspapers, Harburg turned to… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Harburg — Harburg, 1) Amt im hannöverschen Fürstenthume Lüneburg; 113/5 QM.; 16,600 Ew., dazu gehören die Elbinseln Finken u. Kirchwerder; 2) Stadt daselbst, Hamburg gegenüber, an der Mündung der Seve in die Elbe, die bis hierher für größere Seeschiffe… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Harburg — Harburg. 1) Stadtkreis im preuß. Reg. Bez. Lüneburg [Karte: Deutsches Reich I, 2], an der Süderelbe, (1900) 49.153 (1905: 55.676) E., Garnison, Amtsgericht, Handelskammer, Realgymnasium, höhere Mädchenschule, Schloß; bedeutende Industrie… …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Harburg — Harburg, Haarburg, hannöv. Stadt, Hamburg gegenüber, an der Elbe und der Eisenbahn nach Hannover, mit 8900 E., Flußhafen, lebhaftem Verkehr und Industrie, die sich hauptsächlich mit den zur Schiffahrt gehörigen Gegenständen befaßt. – H., bayer.… …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon