A to Z Challenge: F (John Williams’ film scores)

*Read John Williams’ biography here

Fiddler on the Roof
Released in 1971, Fiddler on the Roof is a musical directed by Norman Jewison. Adapted from the 1964 Broadway musical, the film stars Topol in the lead role.

To quote Wikipedia, “the film centers on Tevye, the father of five daughters, and his attempts to maintain his Jewish religious and cultural traditions as outside influences encroach upon the family’s lives. He must cope both with the strong-willed actions of his three older daughters, who wish to marry for love – each one’s choice of a husband moves further away from the customs of his faith – and with the edict of the Tsarr who evicts the Jews from the town of Anatevka.

The score for Fiddler on the Roof landed John Williams his first Oscar win for Scoring: Adaptation and Original Song Score (his was for adaptation).

I saw the movie when I was young and don’t really remember a lot about it, except for:
– the song If I was a Rich Man which I really liked, both the song and the scene (with Tevye dancing around his barn feeding his animals)
– the fiddler on the roof (which I didn’t understand at the time but now realise was used for symbolism)
– the choices Tevye had to make between his faith and his family which had a strong impact on me.

The opening theme is a fiddle solo for the first 1 min 10 sec when the orchestra comes in. I find the solo to be melancholy but when the orchestra joins in it changes and brightens into an almost dance-like jig. Did you enjoy the fiddler or are you like me and more of a If I was a Rich Man fan?

9 comments on “A to Z Challenge: F (John Williams’ film scores)

  1. A wonderful film! I’ve also been lovely cry enough to see it on stage three times, once with an American actor, Hayes Gordon, who settled here during the McCarthy witch hunts(he said he was not a communist, but he didn’t want to live in a country where that sort of thing happened), once done by Opera Australia(big mistake! They could all sing but not act) and finally with Chaim Topol, who had been in the movie. And you know what? He was still wonderful after all the years he had been performing it on stage! It was a privilege to see him.

    I believe the actual fiddler music was played by Isaac Stern, a concert violinist, though the actor was someone else. Molly Picon, who played Yente the matchmaker, was a big name in the Yiddish theatre in her time, and in her youth did Yiddish language films, including a sweet romantic comedy called Yidl Mitn Fiedl, as a girl who disguises as a boy to go on the road as a musician and falls in love with a young man in her group…who treats her as a kid brother.

    I know! Not much to do with John Williams. 🙂 But a lovely film.

    F Is For Fast and Forsyth


  2. That’s fascinating, Sue. And how lucky were you to see the stage version with Chaim Topol.

  3. Giggling Fattie

    April 6, 2019 at 10:52 pm

    FINALLY a movie and a song I have heard before! HAHA I’ve seen the film and my one friend was in a theatre production of it so I saw it then too. I love it! But now I’m going to have “sunrise sunset” in my head all day hehe

    • Yay to having seen this one, GF. This is a classic, so I think if people haven’t seen the movie they will still be familiar with the music.

  4. D, E, and F have been so different, but I have enjoyed them all! I also saw Fiddler when I was young. I’m sure I didn’t understand half of it, but I liked the Rich Man song, too!

    • I deliberately tried to choose different styles. It did mean choosing some movies that are older, or maybe not so well known, but I wanted to showcase Williams’ breadth of work.

  5. Giggling Fattie

    April 7, 2019 at 10:04 pm

    Yes of course! I’m excited to see what next week will bring! 🙂

  6. I had no idea John Williams did that score. I have not seen the whole movie, only bits of it. It was on Turner Classic Movies not too long ago.

    • I thought I knew most of the movies he’d scored, but I learnt of some others when I did the research for my A-Z. I was surprised at some.

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