Herbert Kretzmer Biography: Wiki, Age, Career, Wife, Death Cause

Who is Herbert Kretzmer? Herbert Kretzmer  Bio/Wiki

Herbert Kretzmer, OBE, was a journalist and lyricist from England. He was born on 5 October 1925 in Kroonstad, South Africa. He was best known as the lyricist for Les Misérables’ English-language musical adaptation as well as for his long-standing collaboration in writing English-language lyrics for French songwriter Charles Aznavour’s songs.


He was 95 years old.


Born in 1925, Kretzmer was founded in Kroonstad, South Africa. He was one of the four brothers of William and Tilly Kretzmer, Jewish immigrants from Lithuania, who fled Czarist Russia’s pogroms to settle in small-town South Africa early in the 20th century. A furniture store was owned by his parents. During the Second World War, Elliot, the oldest of the brothers, served as part of a bomber crew in the South African Air Force, eventually becoming Johannesburg’s Mayor in 1991.


Kretzmer started his professional career writing documentaries and a weekly movie newsreel commentary. He soon went on, however, to print journalism, initially as a Johannesburg Sunday Express reporter and feature writer.

In 1954, he then moved to London and pursued twin careers as a journalist and writer of songs.

Kretzmer became a profile writer on the Sunday Dispatch and the Daily Express, interviewing John Steinbeck, Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, Sugar Ray Robinson, Louis Armstrong, Henry Miller, Cary Grant, and Duke Ellington, after many years as a feature writer on the Daily Sketch.

In 1962, he became the Daily Express’s senior drama critic. He held this position for 16 years, covering, during this time, around 2,500 first nights. He wrote television criticism for the Daily Mail from 1979 to 1987, earning two national press awards, including TV Critic Of The Year in 1980, in this capacity.

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“In the Summer of His Years,” written and performed by Millicent Martin within hours of his assassination, Kretzmer wrote lyrics for the BBC’s 1960s televised satire That Was The Week That Was, including the racial satire “Song of Nostalgia For an American State” and the much-recorded tribute to John F. Kennedy.

Kristina, based on Vilhelm Moberg’s epic suite of novels about Swedish emigrants to Minnesota in the 19th century, was Kretzmer’s most recent musical project. In September 2009, the show, originally conceived and written by lyricist Björn Ulvaeus and ABBA composer Benny Andersson, was presented and recorded in a two-night concert version at Carnegie Hall, New York.


In 1961, he married Elisabeth Margaret Wilson. They had one son Matthew and one daughter Danielle, all together. In 1973, they divorced. In 1988, he subsequently married Sybil Sever. On 7 April 2011, Kretzmer received an Honorary Doctorate from Rhodes University in South Africa.

Death Cause

Kretzmer died at his London home on 14 October 2020. He’d been 95. Fellow lyricist Sir Tim Rice, paying tribute online, described him as “a giant of his trade”, adding: “RIP Herbie.”

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