Sheldon Harnick (born 30 April 1924) is an American lyricist best known for his collaborations with composer Jerry Bock on hit musicals such as Fiddler on the Roof.
Harnick began his career writing words and music to comic songs in musical revues. One of these, "The Merry Minuet", was popularized by the Kingston Trio. It is in the caustic style usually associated with Tom Lehrer and is sometimes incorrectly attributed to him. "If I Were a Rich Man" is a song from the 1964 musical Fiddler on the Roof. It was written by Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock. The song is performed by Tevye, the main character in the musical, and reflects his dreams of glory.
The title is inspired by a 1902 monologue by Sholem Aleichem in Yiddish, Ven ikh bin Rothschild (If I were Rothschild), although the content is quite different. The lyric is based in part on passages from Sholem Aleichemâ€™s 1899 short story "The Bubble Bursts." Both stories appeared in English in a 1949 collection of stories entitled Tevye's Daughters.
The song is broken into four verses, with a bridge between the third and fourth and a chorus sung at the beginning of the song, and after the second.