"Fiddler on the Roof" composer Jerry Bock dies at 81

Wed Nov 3, 2010 8:22pm EDT
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NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - Jerry Bock, the Tony-winning composer who wrote the score to "Fiddler on the Roof" and several other musicals, died Wednesday of heart failure, his friend and lawyer Richard Ticktin told Playbill.com. He was 81.

Bock died at Northern Westchester Medical Center in Mount Kisco, N.Y., four days after having a stroke.

His "Fiddler" compositions included such well-known tunes as "If I Were a Rich Man," "Sunrise, Sunset" and "Matchmaker, Matchmaker." In adapting Sholom Aleichem's tales of a dairyman in late-19th-century Russia, Bock "drew on the rich musical heritage of Jewish prayer and klezmer music, while staying within the framework of musical theater songwriting traditions," Playbill.com wrote.

The show was an instant hit when it debuted in 1964. It ran for six years and has been revived many times on tour and on Broadway.

With his longtime creative partner, lyricist Sheldon Harnick, the Bock also composed the scores for "She Loves Me," "Fiorello!" and "The Rothschilds."

The duo had a falling-out in 1970, and Bock's career as a Broadway composer essentially came to an end after their partnership dissolved. Nearly 40 years later, they reunited to write a new song, "Topsy Turvy," for Fiddler's most recent revival.

Bock's death comes less than two weeks after the passing of "Fiddler" librettist Joseph Stein, who died October 24 at age 98.