Hi there, Dear Reader. It is a chilly afternoon here in Lithia, Florida on Monday, January 17, 2022. It is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and it is cold – by the standards of us subtropical denizens; I know that some of you who live up in colder climes don’t think 60˚F (16˚C) is cold, but it is cold for native Floridians! Currently, it is 60˚F (16˚C) under cloudy skies. Today’s forecast calls for strong breezes, partly sunny skies, and a high of 66˚F (19˚C). Tonight, skies will be clear, and the low will be a near-freezing 36˚F (5˚C).
As I mentioned earlier, today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which means the Caregiver has the day off from her job with the county clerk of the court’s office. She’s been busy all day; first, she took her ailing boyfriend to the hospital because he has terminal liver damage and needs treatment every so often. Now she is taking the two Christmas trees down, one tree at a time, and putting the holiday decorations away till next December.
She also did a nice thing for me this weekend – she offered to pay for a 3-CD set of the Fiddler on the Roof – 50th Anniversary Remastered Limited Edition that I spied when I bought Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (Limited Edition 2-CD Set) earlier this month.
Norman Jewison’s 1971 Fiddler on the Roof is an adaptation of the eponymous 1964 stage musical about life in a Russian shtetl (Anatevka) as seen through the experiences of Jewish milkman Teyve (Topol) and his family. Like many American musical “comedies,” Fiddler on the Roof combines comedy, lively music, song-and-dance numbers, and a dramatic serious undercurrent that adds gravitas and historical context.
I have Fiddler on the Roof on Blu-ray, and I like it because it has a great script (written by Joseph Stein, who wrote the book for the stage version), fine performances by Topol, Norma Crane (in her final role, as she was terminally ill from cancer) and other actors, and memorable songs such as “Tradition,” “If I Were a Rich Man,” “Matchmaker, Matchmaker,” “To Life,” and my favorite, “Sunrise, Sunset.”
I also like it because even though the music was composed by Jerry Bock (Fiorello!) with lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, the score was adapted and conducted for the film by John Williams, who would later compose iconic scores for The Sugarland Express, Jaws, the Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Harry Potter franchises, and Superman, just to name a few. Williams also worked on the orchestrations, along with his friend (and Star Trek TV theme composer) Alexander Courage. For his work on Fiddler, Maestro Williams won his first of five Academy Awards.
Now, you probably know that Williams is my favorite film music composer, and I have many recordings of his scores. Some, like Spotlight on John Williams, are “cover” albums. Most, though, bear the words Original Motion Picture Soundtrack/Music Composed & Conducted by John Williams. I have quite a few of those, especially from Star Wars and various Steven Spielberg films.
However, I don’t have Fiddler on the Roof in my music collection, so when I was buying my expanded edition of James Horner’s Star Trek II soundtrack, I looked through La-La Land’s website to see what other John Williams scores might be available. Fiddler on the Roof was there, obviously, as are expanded editions of Williams’ music for 1941 and A.I.: Artificial Intelligence.
Here’s how La-La Land Records describes Fiddler on the Roof’s Golden Anniversary album:
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF: 50th ANNIVERSARY REMASTERED
LIMITED EDITION (3-CD SET) LLLCD 1576
Music Adapted and Conducted by John Williams
Soloist: Isaac Stern
Limited Edition of 5000 Units
La-La Land Records, MGM and Capitol Records proudly present a 3-CD limited edition 50th Anniversary remastered and expanded reissue of acclaimed composer John Williams’ Academy Award-Winning score to the classic 1971 motion picture adaptation of the Tony Award-Winning musical FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, starring Topol, Norma Crane and Leonard Frey, and produced and directed by Norman Jewison. The timeless songs (“Matchmaker,” “If I Were a Rich Man,” “Sunrise, Sunset,” etc.) were written by Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, and the film soundtrack features virtuoso violin soloist Isaac Stern. Orchestrations for the film are by Alexander Courage and Williams himself.
The enduring big screen film version of FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, produced by The Mirisch Company in association with United Artists, premiered 50 years ago and went on to become one of the year’s biggest hits and earn Academy Awards for Cinematography, Sound and Best Adapted Score. The winner in the latter category was none other than John Williams, soon after to become the world’s most famous film composer and win Oscars for his own now-classic music for JAWS, STAR WARS, E.T. and SCHINDLER’S LIST.
In celebration of the film’s 50th anniversary, this deluxe presentation, approved by Mr. Williams, offers a fully restored, remixed and remastered original soundtrack recording program on Disc One, a second disc of alternate versions, and a third disc featuring early “playback” versions of the songs as well as selections of Williams’ underscore and other musical material released for the first time. (Some tracks on Disc 3 are derived from the finished film mix and may contain sound effects). Produced, restored, mixed and mastered in high resolution by Mike Matessino (from the 1-inch 8-track soundtrack masters for the main program material), this limited CD re-issue of 5000 units includes an exclusive, deluxe essay booklet by Matessino that provides a detailed account of the creation of the score, which was recorded at Anvil Studios in England, and never-before-seen photos from the recording sessions. A second booklet provides a colorful program guide. The joyous art design is by Jim Titus.
The downside, of course, is the price tag: $39.98 plus shipping and handling. That’s a reasonable price for a 3-CD set, so I’m not saying it’s onerously expensive. The problem is, though, that I have a fixed income, and most of my money goes to my monthly rent. (The Caregiver considers me “family” and all, but she also can’t afford to have me living here rent-free.) And I had already bought my “Splurge of the Month,” so I didn’t think I should buy another expensive “non-essential” item for January.
Still, I was disappointed, and despite my best efforts to hide it, the people I live with know my moods and could tell I was a bit out of sorts. Eventually, The Caregiver asked me what was bothering me, and I told her, more or less, the same things I wrote about Fiddler on the Roof‘s 50th Anniversary album – albeit in a less detailed fashion.
So, because she knows I’m a John Williams fan and still wants me to find joy in life, she said, “Go ahead and order it. You can put it on my credit card.”
Because I ordered it late on Saturday, and because it’s a three-day weekend, my order status in my La-La Land Records account is still marked as Awaiting Fulfillment. If La-La Land still has units in stock (I don’t see why not, since Fiddler on the Roof is less popular than Superman: The Movie), it probably won’t ship till tomorrow.
And because It will be sent via the U.S. Postal Service, I doubt it will arrive any time before Saturday, A surer bet – assuming it doesn’t unexpectedly sell out – is that my package with Fiddler on the Roof – 50th Anniversary Remastered Limited Edition will be delivered sometime next week.
As the old commercial for Polaroid cameras used to say, “Let’s see what develops.”
And on this note of careful optimism, I’ll close for now, Dear Reader. Until next time, stay safe, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you on the sunny side of things.