LES MISERABLES Lyricist Herbert Kretzmer Dies at 95

Kretzmer died after a period of illness, according to producer Cameron Mackintosh.

By: Oct. 14, 2020

LES MISERABLES Lyricist Herbert Kretzmer Dies at 95

BroadwayWorld is saddened to report that lyricist Herbert Kretzmer has died at age 95.

Kretzmer is best known for writing the lyrics to the English musical adaptation of Les Miserables.

"It is terribly sad to hear that the great Herbert Kretzmer passed away last night after a period of illness," said producer Cameron Mackintosh. "His wonderful words for Les Miserables will live on in his memory forever more and the Christmas season at the Sondheim will be all the more poignant for all of us as we hear the people sing without having him there. God bless you, Herbie."

Kretzmer was born in South Africa, where he began a career in journalism writing the commentary for a weekly cinema newsreel. He came to live in London in 1954, and has since pursued twin careers as newspaperman and songwriter. He was feature writer on The Daily Sketch and a profile writer on The Sunday Despatch. He joined The Daily Express in 1960 and later became its drama critic, a post he held for 18 years, covering about 3,000 first nights.

From 1979 to 1987, he wrote television criticism for The Daily Mail, winning, in this capacity, two national press awards.

As a lyric writer he wrote weekly songs for That Was The Week That Was and the later Ned Sherrin television shows. He won an Ivor Novello Award for the Peter Sellers/Sophia Loren comedy song 'Goodness Gracious Me'. Other award-winning songs include two written with, and for, Charles Aznavour: 'Yesterday When I Was Young' and the chart-topping 'She'.

In addition for his work on Les Miserables, Kretzmer wrote the book and lyrics for the West End musical Our Man Crichton, which starred Kenneth More and Millicent Martin, and the lyrics for The Four Musketeers, which ran for over a year at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, starring Harry Secombe as D'Artagnan. He also supplied the lyrics for the Anthony Newley musical film Can Heironymous Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness? He was the co-lyricist for Kristina which he wrote with Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson (ABBA), premiered at Carnegie Hall, New York, in September 2009.

Herbert Kretzmer's last work was Marguerite, written with Michel Legrand, Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg.

Boublil and Schonberg provided the following statement:

"There will no longer be three of us taking a bow on stage when Cameron introduces 'the creators of Les Misérables!' Herbert Kretzmer sadly passed away last night. Herbie was a vibrant, hard-working man, but above all a man with an exceptional moral force as well as a brilliant lyricist. Thanks to him, Les Misérables found its English voice - Herbie embraced our original version and turned it into a work that speaks to the rest of the world. On his 90th birthday, he stood on the stage of the Queen's Theatre, by then already frail, to receive a standing ovation! There is no doubt that we, along with the public, will continue to clap for him again and again, thankful for his talent. Herbie may no longer be present, but he will always be here with us as there is more than a little bit of Jean Valjean in him."


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