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Fiddler Foundations

Fiddler Foundations

Fiddler on the Roof Online Resources
Explore Fiddler History

Fiddler on the Roof is easily one of the most talked about musical productions of all time. Throughout its 50 year history, the story of Tevye and his daughters has been studied, translated, adapted, and written about by brilliant minds around the world. It seems that everybody wants to know, "What makes Fiddler on the Roof so special?" In trying to answer that question for ourselves, we came across a treasure trove of videos, interviews, essays, and trivia that we felt was just too good to keep to ourselves. We present it here for you to enjoy. 

Fiddler on the Roof Turns 50>
An essay about Fiddler's staying power by Michele Alperin
(via and

The Painting That Inspired The Play's Title Theme
“A fiddler on the roof. Sounds crazy, no?”

In a recent post on her website Alberti's Window, art historian Monica Bowen describes her surprise in learning that the Fiddler on the Roof title theme was inspired by a Marc Chagall painting, rather than the Sholem Aleichem Tevye stories. She points out that the title specifically references a wall painting that Chagall created for the Moscow State Yiddish Theater in 1920. However the subject matter existed in Chagall’s imagery before this point, as evidenced by the 1912 “Fiddler” painting shown left (now in the collection of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam) and continued after, as in "The Green Violinist" from 1923 shown right (now in the Guggenheim collection).

Chagall's Green Fiddler Marc Chagall's Green Violinist  

Watch An Interview With Fiddler Lyricist Sheldon Harnick 

In an interview with CUNY TV, Fiddler on the Roof lyricist Sheldon Harnick recounts experiences from his 50-year career, including his work with the late composer Jerry Bock on the songs for Fiddler on the Roof.


Fiddler Contest #1

We Need Your Fiddler Haiku!

At almost three hours long, Fiddler on the Roof is a marathon of melody and mispucha (Yiddish for family). To help us sum it all up, we're asking you to submit your best Fiddler on the Roof haiku. We'll share our favorites on the Spertus Facebook Page and award one writer with a Fiddler on the Roof prize package from the Spertus Shop.

Email your haiku to 
with "Fiddler Haiku"  in the subject line.

Here are some samples for inspiration:

Long before JDate
We still had a matchmaker
Her name was Yente

We know you must go
To visit Siberia
But bring a sweater

Need a Haiku refresher? Click here>

Fiddler on the RoofFiddler at 50!
Spertus celebrates five decades of Fiddler on the Roof with a trio of special programs and a range of resources.

Author Event | Booksigning 
Sunday, April 6 at 2 pm 
Fiddler's Fortunes

Alisa Solomon, author of Wonder of Wonders: A Cultural History of Fiddler on the Roofshares the power of Fiddler.

Special Event
Sunday, April 6 at 5:30 pm
Fiddler on the Roof

See the MGM classic on the big screen!

Film | Discussion
Monday, April 7 at 6:30 pm

Join us for a rare screening of the 1939 Yiddish-language film.

More Fiddler
View hilarious Fiddler videos, enter Fiddler contests, and more.