Klezmer Fiddler on the Roof. © 2022 Musical Concepts

CD Spotlight

A New Dimension

GERALD FENECH listens to 'Klezmer Fiddler on the Roof'

'... an orchestral disc that aspiring artists and fans of theatre music can sing along to.'


One of the most sensational hits in the history of American musicals, Fiddler on the Roof, remains to this day as popular as ever, even with the younger generation. Fiddler made its first appearance on Broadway in September 1964, but on 3 November 1971 a film adaptation was released, and this took the musical world by storm. Reviewers praised Norman Jewison's direction, the screenplay by Joseph Stein and the performances of the cast, particularly Topol in the title role of Tevye. The production was a box-office success, grossing more than 83 million dollars, offsetting with ease the nine million it cost to put it on the screen. Fiddler was also nominated for eight Academy Awards, but garnered only three minor ones.

The film centres on Tevye, a poor Jewish milkman living in a remote village in Russia, Anatevka. He is faced with a succession of challenges when trying to marry off his five daughters amidst the growing political tension in his village and finally circumstances catch up with him, when together with his townsfolk he has to leave Anatevka and find somewhere else to live. In fact, the film ends on this sad note.

The first scene of the film opens with just eight words uttered by Tevye: 'A Fiddler on the Roof? Sounds crazy, no?', and this sets the basis of the whole essence of the story, which is all about a people continually struggling for survival amidst great dangers from within and without.

Listen — Jerry Bock: Tradition (Klezmer Fiddler on the Roof)
(MC999 track 1, 0:00-0:55) ℗ 2017 Stage Stars Records :

The film firmly established the reputation of composer Jerry Bock and lyricist Sheldon Harnick as two leading lights of a new generation of theatre music revolutionaries that also included Stephen Sondheim, Jule Styne, Charles Strouse and Jerry Herman.

Set in Eastern Russia in 1905, the show has been played by an orchestra of various sizes, but if you lived in the village of Anatevka, you would have been listening to a small group of musicians known as Klezmorin, who played what we call today Yiddish music.

Listen — Jerry Bock: Anatevka (Klezmer Fiddler on the Roof)
(MC999 track 16, 0:00-0:49) ℗ 2017 Stage Stars Records :

Producer Stephen Pearl re-orchestrated and recorded a version of Fiddler with a Klezmer Band for his Stage Star Label which features original and unique releases of major Broadway musicals of the present and past in two-disc sets, one with singers, and another, an orchestral disc that aspiring artists and fans of theatre music can sing along to.

Listen — Jerry Bock: Anatevka (Klezmer Fiddler on the Roof, Karaoke version)
(MC999 track 32, 0:00-0:49) ℗ 2017 Stage Stars Records :

This release also features the instrumental-only Karaoke programme, which brings a new dimension to the music of this Broadway classic. I presume that many of the tunes are familiar to all of you as they are to me, and I enjoyed myself no end in this sing-along, which brought back memories of real entertainment, when film making was a true art. Real fun from beginning to end, and also a soothing antidote to times of stress and angst. Well, what are you waiting for? Start singing.

Copyright © 3 July 2022 Gerald Fenech,
Gzira, Malta





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