* In the pre-rock era, it was common for multiple versions of Broadway songs to chart instead of the originals from the show itself. By 1964, musicals didn’t dominate the charts, but it was still more likely for a cover of a Broadway tune to chart than for the original.
Fiddler on the Roof (cast album/ soundtrack)
Jerry Bock (music)/ Sheldon Harnick (lyrics)
“Fiddler on the Roof is one of Broadway’s great classics. Based on the tales of Sholem Aleichem, the musical tells the humorous and heartbreaking story” DH of “Tevye, a Jewish milkman who lives in Russia with his family (including five daughters).” ER “He tries to maintain the simplicities of his traditional life even as his daughters grow up and Russia heads toward revolution.” DH “Anti-Semitic notions abound as Tevye and his family find themselves being forced from their village. Tevye’s daughters break from their village’s tradition as they marry for love, not for prosperity. Throughout all of this, a symbolic fiddler lingers over them.” ER
“Fiddler on the Roof was the most successful musical up to its time, running for over 3,000 performances.” ER “The music is beautiful, and haunting at moments” ER while the musical “was also the origin of several famous and now-standard songs” ER like Sunrise, Sunset, If I Were a Rich Man, and Matchmaker, Matchmaker.
“As Tevye, Zero Mostel leads – and at times dominates – the original 1964 Broadway cast, displaying irrepressible swagger and bluster.” DH “The original Broadway cast…also had Beatrice Arthur as Yente, the matchmaker.” ER “A young Julia Migenes plays his middle daughter, Hodel, while those who only know Bert Convy as a game-show host will be surprised by his pleasant voice as her suitor.” DH
The movie version of Fiddler on the Roof “became the top-grossing film of 1971.” WR The soundtrack “stretched out Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick’s song score with musical adaptations by conductor John Williams. There was plenty of screen dialogue, too. But the appeal of the work continued to be the wonderful songs.” WR
Topol, who starred in the 1967 London production, EV takes on the role of Tevye for the movie. He “wasn’t as funny as Zero Mostel…but gave it more gravity. Occasionally on the soundtrack, he sounded so tired, though, that he barely got his lines out. Happily, he nailed ‘If I Were a Rich Man,’ which is Tevye’s real showcase number.” WR The soundtrack also features Isaac Stern as the fiddler. EV “Still, the Fiddler album to buy is the original Broadway cast recording.” WR