“Fiddler on the Roof: A stage musical (1964) and film (1971), with a book by Joseph Stein, score by Jerry Bock and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick. Set in pre-revolutionary Russia, and culminating in a pogrom, it relates the story of Tevye, a Jewish father (memorably played by Topol in the film), and his disapproval of the matrimonial choices made by his daughters. The musical is based on the Yiddish short story collection Tevye and His Daughters by the Russian-born US writer Sholom Aleichem (1859-1916). The significance of the title is obscure: it may be based on the proverbial expression meaning to ‘eat, drink and be merry,’ but it may be taken generally to signify a person who cheerfully makes the best of things, whatever the circumstances.”
Excerpted from: Crofton, Ian, ed. Brewer’s Curious Titles. London: Cassell, 2002.