Harry B. Smith

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b. Harry Bache Smith, 28 December 1860, Buffalo, New York, USA, d. 2 January 1936, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA. Raised in Chicago, Smith became a newspaper reporter and was also drama critic for The…
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b. Harry Bache Smith, 28 December 1860, Buffalo, New York, USA, d. 2 January 1936, Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA. Raised in Chicago, Smith became a newspaper reporter and was also drama critic for The Chicago Daily News. In the mid-1870s he wrote songs and complete musical shows and operettas. Among the latter were Rosita; Or Cupid And Cupidity and Amaryllis, both of which were performed by amateur groups. He also wrote songs and sketches for burlesques staged at the Chicago Opera House. In the late 1880s, he began collaborating with Reginald DeKoven, who also lived in Chicago. Their first venture was The Begum (1888), which was followed by Don Quixote (1889) andRobin Hood (1891). The latter was hugely successful and performances of it in one production or another continued through the next two decades and which prompted Smith and DeKoven to collaborate many more times. Another collaboration was with Victor Herbert, on The Wizard Of The Nile.

Over the years Smith was startlingly prolific, writing more than 6, 000 song lyrics and some 300 librettos, 123 of which were performed on Broadway. Among the many librettos Smith wrote are The Mesmerist (1901), The Office Boy (1903), The Belle Of The West (1905), for the Ziegfeld Follies (1907-12), The Silver Star (1909), another collaboration with Herbert on Sweethearts (1913), Jerome Kern’s The Girl From Utah (1913), Angel Face (1919), A Chained Eagle (1922), The Happiest Man (1926), The White Fox (1928), andRogues And Vagabonds (1929). Among other song collaborators with whom he worked are John Philip Sousa, Sigmund Romberg and Franz Lehár. With the latter he wrote the popular ballad ‘Yours Is My Heart Alone’. Another song that gained enormous popularity was ‘The Sheik Of Araby’, for which Francis Wheeler was co-lyricist and the music was composed by Ted Snyder. In the late 20s and early 30s, Smith evaluated literary properties for Warner Bros. From his early days Smith was a discerning collector of rare books and manuscripts and it is fitting that his extensive library, which includes scores and lyrics and letter, is held by the University of Texas and is available to music historians and researchers. His brother, Robert Smith, was also a lyricist and librettist.