American pop and Broadway lyricist-librettist Otto Harbach was in songwriting teams with Karl Hoschna, Rudolf Friml, and, most successfully, with Oscar Hammerstein II. Born in Salt Lake City, in 1873, Harbach studied at the Collegiate Institute, then at Knox College before becoming an English professor. He was on the staff of Whitman College from 1875-1901, then moved to New York, writing for the newspapers for one year, then for an ad agency for several years. Harbach met composer Karl Hoschna and the two became a songwriting team, scoring their first hit with 1908's "Cuddle Up a Little Closer," from their score for Broadway's The Three Twins. The duo collaborated on more successful shows -- including Bright Eyes and Madame Sherry (1910) -- until Hoschna's death in December 1911. After Hoschna was gone, Harbach began working with composer Rudolf Friml. In 1920, Harbach teamed up with another lyricist-librettist, Oscar Hammerstein II, for the most successful period of Harbach's career. Some of Harbach's best-known songs are "Every Little Movement" (1910), "Sympathy" (1912), "The Love Nest" (1920), "Rose-Marie" (1924), "The Desert Song" (1926), "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," and "Yesterdays" (1933). Some of the hit musicals he wrote for include High Jinks (1913), No, No, Nanette (1925), The Cat and the Fiddle (1932), and Roberta (1933). Besides his three main collaborators, Harbach also wrote with many others over the years, including Herbert Stothart, Vincent Youmans, George Gershwin, Sigmund Romberg, and Jerome Kern. He was vice president of ASCAP from the mid-'30s until 1940, and president for a few years in the early '50s. Many of the musicals that Harbach worked on were later turned into movies. He was later inducted into the Songwriter's Hall of Fame.
Otto Harbach Biography
by Joslyn Layne