Les Misérables lyricist Herbert Kretzmer dies aged 95

Song-writer behind Les Misérables the musical dies aged 95: Tributes pour in to Herbert Kretzmer who wrote world-famous words for stage show while working as Daily Mail’s TV critic

  • Herbert Kretzmer, best known for his English-language adaptation of Les Misérables, has died aged 95
  • The award-winning lyricist and journalist wrote weekly songs for the BBC’s That Was The Week That Was
  • In a heartfelt tribute, fellow lyricist Sir Tim Rice described him as ‘a giant of his trade’, tweeting: ‘RIP Herbie’ 

The renowned lyricist and journalist Herbert Kretzmer has died at the age of 95.

Kretzmer, who was best known for his English-language adaptation of the musical Les Misérables, passed away in London.   

Born in South Africa in 1925, Kretzmer moved to London in 1954 ‘with £150 in my pocket’ and embarked on a career as both a songwriter and journalist. 

He went on to win two national press awards while working as a TV critic for the Daily Mail from 1979-87 and wrote weekly songs for the BBC’s groundbreaking satire show That Was The Week That Was. 

He later won the prestigious Ivor Novello Award for the comedy song, Goodness Gracious Me, performed by Peter Sellers and Sophia Loren in 1989.

But he was perhaps best known for gracing the stage of the Golden Globes in 2013, when, aged 87, he stood arm-in-arm with actress Anne Hathaway when the cast scooped a string of awards. 

Kretzmer penned the score for the stage version of Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel, including the iconic ballad, ‘I dreamed a dream.’ His work on Les Mis – now the longest running West End musical of all time – garnered him praised around the world and earned him Tony and Grammy awards.  

Sir Tim Rice is among those who has paid a heartfelt tribute to Kretzmer, calling him a ‘giant of his trade.’

Sir Tim tweeted: ‘The great lyricist and man of theatre and popular song, Herbert Kretzmer, has died. From Les Mis to She, TW3, Goodness Gracious Me and so much more he was a giant of his trade. RIP Herbie.’

Lyricist and journalist Herbert Kretzmer, pictured here at the opening night of Cameron Mackintosh’s production of ‘Les Miserables’ on Broadway at The Imperial Theatre in 2014


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