Photo credit: Ashley Gilmour as Enjolras, Harry Apps as Marius and Company in Les Misérables (Photo by Johan Persson)

Les Misérables lyricist Herbert Kretzmer dies aged 95

The West End community have shared their memories and tributes to the Les Miserables lyricist.

Sophie Thomas
Sophie Thomas

Journalist and lyricist Herbert Kretzmer passed away today, 14 October 2020, at the age of 95. Perhaps best known for his lyrics in Les Miserables, West End actors and producers have all commented on his passing.

The current producer of Les Miserables in the West End, Cameron Mackintosh said: "It is terribly sad to hear that the great Herbert Kretzmer passed away last night. His wonderful words for Les Miserables will live on in his memory forever more... God bless you, Herbie." 

Fellow lyricist Tim Rice commented: 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."

Soon to reprise his role as Thenardier in Les Miserables, Matt Lucas said: "Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise. RIP Herbert Kretzmer."

Born in South Africa in 1925, Kretzmer began his career writing documentary films and commentary for weekly newsreels. Moving to print journalism, he moved to London in the 1950s and became senior drama critic of the Daily Express; a post he held for 18 years. Kretzmer later moved to the Daily Mail as a television critic from 1979 - 1987.

Lyrically, he's an Ivor Novello Award for the comedy Goodness Gracious Me. He also wrote the chart-topping "She", sung by Charles Aznavour. It was these prolific lyrics that attracted the attention of Cameron Mackintosh, who invited him to write an English version of Les Miserables — songs include "I Dreamed A Dream", "Stars" and "One Day More".

For the 2012 film adaptation of Les Miserables, Kretzmer was nominated for an Oscar and Golden Globe for "Suddenly". In recent years, he worked on lyrics for shows Marguerite and Kristina.

Photo credit: Ashley Gilmour as Enjolras, Harry Apps as Marius and Company in Les Misérables (Photo by Johan Persson)


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