Fiddler Composer & Lyricist Bock Dies, Aged 81Date: 5 November 2010
Born Jerrold Lewis Bock in Connecticut on November 23, 1928, and raised in Queens, New York, Bock began his musical career at university, touring his show Big As Life before making his Broadway debut in 1955 contributing songs to Catch A Star.
He met lyricist Sheldon Harnick shortly afterwards, together writing Fiorello! which won the pair the 1959 Tony Award for Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Their most famous partnership, Bock writing the score and Harnick the lyrics, came for Fiddler on the Roof which won the Tony Award for Best Composer and Lyricist in 1965.
Bock was subsequently nominated four times for his work on the musicals, including Best Musical for She Loves Me in 1964, Best Composer and Lyricist for The Apple Tree in 1967, and Best Original Score for The Rothschilds in 1971. As well as being inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1972, Bock also won an Emmy for "A Fiddler Crab Am I" from the show The Wonder Pets!.
Fiddler on the Roof, based on Sholem Aleichem’s short stories about a Jewish milkman and his family in a small Russian village in 1905, opened on Broadway in 1964 winning nine Tony Awards, including Best Musical.
The production at the Broadway Theatre went on to become Broadway’s longest-running musical in 1971, and was produced in 16 languages in 32 countries. The show closed on Broadway in 1972, but has been revived four times since, most recently in 2004.
Fiddler was last revived on the West End in May 2007, opening at the Savoy Theatre after a two-month tryout at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, the production starred Henry Goodman as Tevye. The musical also toured the UK until September 2008.
Bock’s contribution to musical theatre will live on through The Jerry Bock Award for Excellence in Musical Theater, which was established in 1997 as an annual grant presented to the composer and lyricist of a project developed in the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theater Workshop.
Bock is survived by his wife Patti, daughter Portia and son George.
- Vicky Ellis