If I Were a Rich Man is asongof the American musical Fiddler on the Roof ( Fiddler on the Roof ) ofJerry BockandSheldon Harnick, after a work ofCholem Aleikhem(created inNew Yorkin1964).


The title is inspired by Cholem Aleikhem’s monologue in Yiddish (1902), Ven ikh bin Rothschild (If I was a Rothschild), referring to the fortune of the Rothschild family , even though the lyrics differ. The lyrics come in effect, for the most part, from the passage of a story by Cholem Aleikhem, The Bubble Bursts (1889). Both stories were translated into English in 1949 in the Tevye  (en) ‘s Daughters 1 Stories .

Adjustments, reversals and parodies

This song gave rise, in 1968 , to two adaptations in French: Ah! if I was rich (sung by Ivan Rebroff , who also interpreted it in German), and If I had millions , adapted by Charles Aznavour and sung by Dalida .

The piece is taken up by an English female duo in 1993-1994, Louie Lou & Michie one “rich girl” on the reggae label / ragga English Fashion Record. It is this version which is at the base of the other following versions. [ref. necessary]

The song resurfaced in 1996 with an adaptation of Rita Mitsouko ( Rich , duet with Doc Gynéco ), then in 1999 with a version adapted in ragga and lyrics “feminized”: If I Was A Rich Girl , by Lady Saw , which begins the title humming the national anthem of Israel Hatikvah .

Also in 1999, Bruno Lapassatet saves a new version of the song (entitled If I were rich on French words adapted by Maurice Vidalin. This version is included in the soundtrack Ah, if I were rich , released in 2002 in the cinema , and where it serves as end credits 2 .

This ragga version is in turn adapted in French by the duo Big Boss & Winsome also with title Ah! if I was rich (but with different lyrics from the version of Ivan Rebroff ) [When?] .

Finally, this title becomes a hit thanks to the revival of the duo Gwen Stefani & Eve in 2004 : Rich Girl .

The song was parodied entitled If I Were a Midget (Ah! If I were a dwarf) in a program of Comedy Central , The Man Show  (in) , where Jimmy Kimmel played a little character.

Another parody was also made of the song in the musical A Shoggoth on the Roof , which is a cover of the original piece in the form of the myth of HP Lovecraft , the song itself having the name If I Were a Deep One .

The Spider-Man 2 DVD features an easter egg where Dr. Octopus ( Alfred Molina ) sings If I Were a Rich Man . Alfred Molina played the role of Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof to Broadway .


  1. ↑ Tevye’s Daughters, by Cholem Aleikhem, translated by Frances Butwin (1949). The Bubble Bursts appears on pages 1-15, If I Were Rothschild on pages 16-19.
  2. ↑ Gérard Bitton , Michel Munz , Richard Berry and François Morel , If I Were a Rich Man , ( read online  [ archive ] )