Lyricist Herbert Kretzmer, best known for his English-language adaptation of the musical Les Misérables, has died at the age of 95, it has been confirmed by family and friends online. Aside from his work on Les Misérables, his most prominent work includes the 1960 song ‘Good Gracious Me’, made famous by Peter Sellers and Sophia Loren, as well as the 1974 hit ‘She’, which he wrote with Charles Aznavour and was later covered by Elvis Costello.
Tributes have been pouring in online, with fellow lyricist Sir Tim Rice calling him “a giant of his trade”.
Cameron Mackintosh said: “It is terribly sad to hear that the great Herbert Kretzmer passed away last night after a period of illness. His wonderful words for Les Miserables will live on in his memory forever more and the Christmas season at the Sondheim will be all the more poignant for all of us as we hear the people sing without having him there. God bless you, Herbie.”
Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg said: “There will no longer be three of us taking a bow on stage when Cameron introduces ‘the creators of Les Misérables!’ Herbert Kretzmer sadly passed away last night. Herbie was a vibrant, hard-working man, but above all a man with an exceptional moral force as well as a brilliant lyricist. Thanks to him, Les Misérables found its English voice – Herbie embraced our original version and turned it into a work that speaks to the rest of the world. On his 90th birthday, he stood on the stage of the Queen’s Theatre, by then already frail, to receive a standing ovation! There is no doubt that we, along with the public, will continue to clap for him again and again, thankful for his talent. Herbie may no longer be present, but he will always be here with us as there is more than a little bit of Jean Valjean in him.”