Jerry Bock, Composer
Jerrold Lewis “Jerry” Bock (November 23, 1928 – November 3, 2010) was an American musical theater composer. He received the Tony Award for Best Musical and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama with Sheldon Harnick for their 1959 musical Fiorello! and the Tony Award for Best Composer and Lyricist for the 1964 musical Fiddler on the Roof with Sheldon Harnick.
Bock made his Broadway debut in 1955 when he and Lawrence Holofcener contributed songs to Catch a Star. The following year the duo collaborated on the musical Mr. Wonderful, designed for Sammy Davis Jr., after which they worked on Ziegfeld Follies of 1956, which closed out-of-town.
Shortly after, Bock met lyricist Sheldon Harnick, with whom he forged a successful partnership. Although their first joint venture, The Body Beautiful, failed to charm the critics, its score caught the attention of director George Abbott and producer Hal Prince. They hired the team to compose a musical biography of former New York City mayor Fiorello La Guardia. Fiorello! (1959) earned Bock and Harnick the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Musical, Tony Award for Best Musical (tied with the team from The Sound of Music) and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
Bock’s additional collaborations with Harnick include Tenderloin (1960), Man in the Moon (1963), She Loves Me (1963), Fiddler on the Roof (1964), The Apple Tree (1966), and The Rothschilds (1970), as well as contributions to Never Too Late (1962), Baker Street (1965), Her First Roman (1968), and The Madwoman of Central Park West (1979). Fiddler on the Roof included the hit song “If I Were a Rich Man”.
Established in 1997, the Jerry Bock Award for Excellence in Musical Theater is an annual grant presented to the composer and lyricist of a project developed in the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theater Workshop.