Music Articles

(Soundbite of song, "Fiddler on the Roof")


The man who wrote this iconic passage from "Fiddler on the Roof" has died. Composer Jerry Bock passed away this morning in New York from heart failure following a stroke.

NPR's Elizabeth Blair has this remembrance.

ELIZABETH BLAIR: Nine Tony Awards, three Oscars, "Fiddler on the Roof" has been performed in dozens of languages, thousands of times since it was written by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick in 1964.

(Soundbite of song, "If I Were A Rich Man")

Unidentified Man #1 (Actor): (As character) (Singing) If I were a rich man, (unintelligible). All day long I'd (unintelligible) if I were a wealthy man.

BLAIR: Jerry Bock was a composer pretty much his whole life. He wrote music for shows as early as high school. Bock made Broadway history when he teamed up with lyricist Sheldon Harnick. Their first show was a flop. But then they wrote "Fiorello," based on the legendary New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia.

(Soundbite of music)

Unidentified People (Actors): (As characters) (Singing) (Unintelligible).

BLAIR: "Fiorello" won a Pulitzer in 1960. For the often melancholy music for "Fiddler on the Roof," Jerry Bock drew from Klezmer and Jewish prayer music. He told NPR in 2000 that he was deeply moved by Fiddler's astounding popularity.

Mr. JERRY BOCK (Composer): To have been fortunate to see it in various countries, in so many different ways - theaters that were dime-sized; orchestras that were under the stage - and yet, coming through and reaching the people by the performance and by the show, those were things that were unimaginable.

(Soundbite of song, "Tradition")

Unidentified People (Actors): (As characters) (Singing) Tradition, tradition, tradition.

BLAIR: Composer Jerry Bock died this morning. He was 81.

Elizabeth Blair, NPR News.

Copyright © 2010 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from