Bock to Harnick

Composing the score to Fiddler on the Roof

Fiddler on the Roof is one of the seminal musicals in the American Musical Theater cannon and this treasure chest of never-before

released private demos gives an insight into the creation of that masterpiece. Composer Jerry Bock would send a musical “seed” to lyricist Sheldon Harnick who would then write the words. Hear Bock create the music for “Sunrise, Sunset.” Hear Bock almost forget the tune to what would become “If I Were A Rich Man.” Hear songs that never made it into the show. Hear 33 Jerry Bock songs that never even had a lyric. Plus an interview with 91 year old Sheldon Harnick where he talks about working with Bock, Richard Rodgers and others.

Bock discovers Sunrise, Sunset

Sheldon Harnick

Jerry Bock

Joseph Stein

Zero performs If I Were A Rich Man

Bock discovers If I Were a Rich Man

 

Seedlings to Sunflowers

(from the liner notes)

 

When my partner Ira Yuspeh told me he had an archive of over 100 hours of Jerry Bock Demos (or “seeds” as he called them) I literally almost fainted. To me, this discover was as monumental as any paleological discovery in Africa, because, as a huge fan of Musical Theater, here were the very beginnings of Fiddler. In fact before it was even called Fiddler! Jerry would play his melodic seeds, sometimes snatches of songs, sometimes the full song, and send this (recorded on an old Wallensack reel to reel) to Sheldon who would then pick the tunes that appealed to him and write the words. Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick worked this way for over thirty years.  I remember an old TV show called “You Were There,” where actors (in front of cheesy sets) would re-enact historical moments—the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the sinking of the Titanic—and a reporter in modern dress would narrate the scene. But this Bock to Harnick archive is much more than that. This is real. We are there in Jerry’s studio hearing him play a tune that “might be good” and everyone in the world knows it will become “Sunrise, Sunset.”  We experience these seeds exactly how Sheldon experienced them, complete with Jerry’s out of tune piano!

 

This recording is divided into Five Categories.

 

PART ONE: Seedling to Sunflowers

These are the seeds Jerry sent Sheldon of songs that became standards. Following the seeds are the original Demos that Jerry and Sheldon made for the show.

 

PART TWO: Wonder of Wonders

These are more seeds and Demos of songs which are in the show, but we didn’t have the all of “seed/Demos” to align the two. Things to listen for: Jerry almost forgetting the melody to what would become “If I Were a Rich Man,” and the unused verse to “Now I Have Everything” that was obviously originally intended for Motel.

 

PART THREE: A Distant Land

Here are Demos and seeds of songs that did not make it to the original show. Hear the song that was written for Tevye before “Rich Man.”

 

PART FOUR: Here’s to Another Day

To me, this is the most exciting section: 33 never before heard “songs” by Jerry Bock that for some reason, not only never made it to the show, but Sheldon never added a lyric. I’m assuming that the lyricists listening will attempt to write a “new” song for Fiddler by adding their own lyrics.

 

PART FOUR: A Matchless Match

I interviewed Sheldon specifically for the release of these tapes. I thought I knew all the behind the scene stories, but I sat in there in amazement as Sheldon revealed gem after gem.

 

This release was produced for anyone who loves Musical Theater, who loves great songs, who loves Fiddler, who loves backstage stories, so in other words, everyone. Enjoy!