Otto Harbach

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Otto Abels Harbach, born Otto Abels Hauerbach (August 18, 1873 – January 24, 1963) was an American lyricist and librettist of about 50 musical comedies. Some of his more famous lyrics are for "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes", "Indian Love Call" and "Cuddle up a Little Closer, Lovey Mine".


Harbach was born in Salt Lake City, Utah to Danish immigrant parents Adolph Hauerbach and his wife Sena Olsen, and attended the Salt Lake Collegiate Institute, transferring to Knox College, in Galesburg, Illinois, where he was a friend of Carl Sandburg, joined Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity, and graduated in 1895. He obtained his masters degree in English from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, and attended Columbia University in New York with the goal of becoming an English professor. In the early 1900s, complaining of eye difficulties making prolonged reading uncomfortable, he became a newspaper reporter. He also worked at various advertising agencies.

He collaborated as lyricist or librettist with Karl Hoschna, Rudolf Friml, Oscar Hammerstein II, Jerome Kern, Louis Hirsch, Herbert Stothart, Vincent Youmans, George Gershwin, and Sigmund Romberg. He was a charter member of ASCAP in 1914, serving as its director (1920–1963), vice president (1936–1940), and finally president (1950–1953).

He was lyricist for many songs now in the standard repertoire, including "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," "Yesterdays", "Indian Love Call," "Cuddle Up a Little Closer," "One Alone," "The Night Was Made For Love," "I Won't Dance" and "She Didn't Say Yes".

Harbach, an inductee of the Songwriter's Hall of Fame, died in New York City.

Selected work

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