Herbert Kretzmer was instrumental in bringing Victor Hugo’s basic story of defiance and redemption in early 19th century France to the stage in English in October 1985
Herbert Kretzmer, the journalist and lyricist finest recognized for his English-language adaptation of the musical Les Miserables, has died. He was 95.
His household confirmed Wednesday that Kretzmer died after a protracted sickness with Parkinson’s illness on the London dwelling he shared along with his second spouse, Sybil Sever.
Tributes poured in from giants of the London stage, together with theatrical producer Cameron Mackintosh, singer Elaine Paige, and lyricist Tim Rice.
Les Miserables producer Mackintosh stated Kretzmer was instrumental in bringing Victor Hugo’s basic story of defiance and redemption in early 19th century France to the stage in English in October 1985, 5 years after it had opened in Paris.
“His fantastic phrases for Les Misérables will reside on in his reminiscence endlessly extra,” he stated in a press release.
For Paige, he was a “masterful wordsmith” whereas Rice described Kretzmer as a “great lyricist and man of theatre” and a “giant of his trade.”
Kretzmer, referred to as Herbie to his mates, was born in Kroonstad, a small city south of Johannesburg, South Africa, in October 1925. He was one in every of 4 sons of Jewish-Lithuanian immigrants who ran a grocery store and later a affluent furnishings retailer.
Though his childhood below the huge expanse of South African sky was “blissful,” he wished by the age of 11 to grow to be a “newspaper man” — so he may get nearer to his heroes on display screen.
From Johannesburg, he moved to Paris in 1953, taking part in the piano by night time in a bar in return for a meal. A 12 months later, he moved to London and fulfilled his dream of being on the coronary heart of the film motion, in an award-winning journalistic profession that included stints on the Daily Express and Daily Mail.
His catalog of interviews reads like a Who’s Who? of 20th-century leisure, together with Muhammad Ali, Judy Garland, Groucho Marx, David Niven, and Frank Sinatra. Some interviewees, like Peter Sellers and Terence Stamp, turned shut mates.
The music was by no means distant although. He wrote weekly songs within the 1960s for That Was The Week That Was, the BBC’s ground-breaking satirical present that proved the launchpad for the careers of luminaries on the earth of tv over subsequent a long time, reminiscent of John Cleese and David Frost.
Some songs had been humorous, reminiscent of ‘Goodness Gracious Me,’ others extra poignant, notably ‘In the Summer of His Years,’ a tribute to President John F Kennedy that was written hours after his assassination on 22 November, 1963.
There had been additional songs, together with ‘She,’ which he wrote with French singer Charles Aznavour and which topped the UK Singles Charts for a month in 1974. He defined a long time later that it was a couple of British girl with whom he had just lately damaged up following a year-long affair.
But the actually large time by no means fairly got here. Until a younger British producer by the identify of Cameron Mackintosh invited Kretzmer to tea in June 1984 and his life modified.
Though the expanded English model of Les Miserables — it was by no means Les Mis for Kretzmer — had blended opinions initially, it could quickly grow to be one of many largest successes of 20th century theatre.
Were it not for the coronavirus pandemic, it’d nonetheless be operating in London, a testomony to the enduring reputation of the story in addition to the songs, reminiscent of ‘I Dreamed a Dream,’ ‘One Day More’ and ‘Do You Hear the People Sing?‘
Add ‘Suddenly‘ to that checklist, the music he wrote for the 2012 blockbuster ﬁlm model that earned him on the age of 87 an Academy Award nomination.
Kretzmer has been appointed Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters in France and an Officer of the Order of British Empire.
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