Brother, Can You Spare a Song? Concert of Yip Harburg Songs and Poems Kicks Off NYPL's Film Series April 7 | Playbill

News Brother, Can You Spare a Song? Concert of Yip Harburg Songs and Poems Kicks Off NYPL's Film Series April 7
Socially-relevant documentaries from New York Public Library's Yip Harburg Political Film Collection will be seen in free screenings on Thursdays in April, heralded by an April 7 concert of Harburg songs and poems.
Yip Harburg
Yip Harburg

The concert — celebrating the Yip Harburg Political Film Collection — features Broadway stars Stephen Bogardus (Falsettos, Love! Valour! Compassion!) and Diane Sutherland (She Loves Me), singer and recording artist Catherine Russell and Harburg's teen-age grandson, Ben Harburg.

The left-leaning Yip Harburg is known for his playful, saucy — and often socially aware — lyrics in the musicals "The Wizard of Oz," Finian's Rainbow, Jamaica, Flahooley, The Happiest Girl in the World, Bloomer Girl and more. His lyric for "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime" remains a painful, stirring portrait of Depression era despair and yearning.

The free concert is called Hooray for What! Yip Harburg's Songs and Poems of Love and War, and will be performed 6 PM April 7 at NYPL's Donnell Library Center Auditorium.

The pieces performed will reflect Harburg's "intense and skillfully rendered views of both romance and politics, and how they sometimes interweave."

The Donnell Library Center Auditorium is at 20 W. 53rd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. The performance is held on the 109th anniversary of Harburg's birth. The Yip Harburg Political Documentary Film Collection was established at the Donnell Media Center (within the Donnell Library Center) by the Yip Harburg Foundation in 2004.

"As part of its mission to perpetuate the ideals inherent in Harburg's social activism, the Foundation provided seed money, other funding and in-kind support to documentaries by some of the finest contemporary filmmakers and has given the collection to the Library," according to the library.

Six films from the collection will be screened in the Library's series "Viewpoint: Treasures from the Yip Harburg Political Documentary Film Collection" on Thursday afternoons in April.

The Donnell Media Center has circulating and reference collections of nearly 15,000 films and 35,000 audio recordings and is one of the largest such centers in the nation.

The theatrical concert is based on an idea by Ernie Harburg, Yip's son, and is co-conceived and narrated by Deena Rosenberg (Harburg) with veteran director Michael Montel.

Broadway musical director David Brunetti is at the piano. Ben Harburg, Yip Harburg’s grandson, is a junior at East Side Community High School in the East Village near where his grandfather grew up.

On April 28, 2005, a Yip Harburg 37-cent postage stamp by the United States Postal Service will be issued.

For more information about "Viewpoint: Treasures from the Yip Harburg Political Documentary Film Collection," visit

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