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The Librettist’s Granddaughter

Celebrating the man who made Tevye sing

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Sholem Aleichem, 1905.(Beit Sholem Aleichem.)

Today, in the Paris Review, Sadie Stein remembers her late grandfather, the man who brought Fiddler on the Roof to life. A broadway librettist, he came across Aleichem’s literary renderings of Tevye the milkman in the early sixties and, as she explains it, “transformed them into an unlikely musical that became Fiddler on the Roof.”

It seems appropriate that Tevye was brought from the shtetl to the stage by a second generation American who, though never having experienced the challenges of life in Eastern Europe, certainly understood the pulls of tradition and modernity. As Stein explains in a parenthetical aside, “He had come to my sixth-grade class and told us about its inception—the difficulty of finding producers, the skeptics and naysayers, the creative team’s unwavering commitment to the project—during our ‘Immigration’ unit.”

Adaptation [Paris Review]
Earlier: Tradition, Tradition

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The Librettist’s Granddaughter

Celebrating the man who made Tevye sing

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