Birth of a Classic: Listen to Bock and Harnick's Very First Fiddler On the Roof Demos!

News   Birth of a Classic: Listen to Bock and Harnick's Very First Fiddler On the Roof Demos! What did Fiddler sounds like before it was a worldwide phenomenon? Take a peek behind the scenes of the creation of the musical, currently enjoying its fifth Broadway revival, with writers Bock and Harnick's earliest demos of such tunes as "If I Were a Rich Man," "Sunrise, Sunset," and "Far From the Home I Love."

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Fiddler On the Roof became a near-instant classic when it opened on Broadway in 1964. It won ten 1965 Tony Awards (including Best Musical and a Composer and Lyricist Award for Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick) and ran for over seven years and 3,242 performances. It has subsequently played all over the world, was adapted for the silver screen starring Chaim Topol and its most recent revival starring Danny Burstein just started previews last week at the Broadway Theatre.

The score is filled with adored songs like "If I Were a Rich Man," "Matchmaker," "Sunrise, Sunset," "Do You Love Me," "Far From the Home I Love," and more. If you're a Fiddler fan, we've got a special treat for you. Take a trip back into history and listen to composer Jerry Bock and lyricist Sheldon Harnick's first-ever demos to Fiddler on the Roof. These recordings capture the first time some of these songs were ever recorded or even performed in full.

These tracks, part of a larger collection of over four hours of early demo recordings covering the creation of the entire Fiddler score, are available for purchase at FiddlerOnTheRoof.bandcamp.com.

In this first track, Bock discovers the melody to the song that would become "If I Were a Rich Man." Though no specific lyric existed when this demo was recorded, Bock sings his melody in an improvisatory mock-Yiddish gibberish. This "deedle deedle dum" eventually found its way into the refrain of Harnick's final lyric.

Jerry Bock discovers "If I Were A Rich Man"

In these next two tracks, Bock works on the melody to what would become "Far From the Home I Love," although he initially heard it a bit more spritely than it ended up.

Jerry Bock discovers "Far From the Home I Love"

Jerry Bock sings "Far From the Home I Love" (without lyrics)

Here, Sheldon Harnick sings a demo of "Far From the Home I Love" that is far closer to the version of the tune that was performed in the show. Still, some differences remain, including a more open-ended closure.

"Far From the Home I Love" Show Demo: Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick

Jerry Bock originally thought of this tune for Tevye's daughters. As he introduces his work to Harnick here, he describes it as "coquette"-like, but also "unashamedly sentimental." That latter feeling is probably part of what made this melody eventually become "Sunrise, Sunset," one of Fiddler's most-beloved tunes.

Jerry Bock Discovers "Sunrise, Sunset"

Now with a finished lyric, Bock and Harnick sing a version of the song that is nearly identical to how it appeared on stage.

“Sunrise, Sunset” Show Demo: Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick

 

Want to hear more? Head over to FiddlerOnTheRoof.bandcamp.com!

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