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Irving Berlin

Irving Berlin (born Israel Beilin; Yiddish: ישראל ביילין‎; May 11, 1888 – September 22, 1989) was an American composer and lyricist, widely considered one of the greatest songwriters in American history. His music forms a great part of the Great American Songbook. Born in Imperial Russia, Berlin arrived in the United States at the age of five. He published his first song, "Marie from Sunny Italy", in 1907, receiving 33 cents for the publishing rights, and had his first major international hit, "Alexander's Ragtime Band" in 1911. He also was an owner of the Music Box Theatre on Broadway. It is commonly believed that Berlin could not read sheet music, and was such a limited piano player that he could only play in the key of F-sharp using his custom piano equipped with a transposing lever.

"Alexander's Ragtime Band" sparked an international dance craze in places as far away as Berlin's native Russia, which also "flung itself into the ragtime beat with an abandon bordering on mania." Over the years he was known for writing music and lyrics in the American vernacular: uncomplicated, simple and direct, with his stated aim being to "reach the heart of the average American," whom he saw as the "real soul of the country." In doing so, said Walter Cronkite, at Berlin's 100th birthday tribute, he "helped write the story of this country, capturing the best of who we are and the dreams that shape our lives."

He wrote hundreds of songs, many becoming major hits, which made him famous before he turned thirty. During his 60-year career he wrote an estimated 1,500 songs, including the scores for 20 original Broadway shows and 15 original Hollywood films, with his songs nominated eight times for Academy Awards. Many songs became popular themes and anthems, including "Alexander's Ragtime Band", "Easter Parade", "Puttin' on the Ritz", "Cheek to Cheek", "White Christmas", "Happy Holiday", "Anything You Can Do (I Can Do Better)", and "There's No Business Like Show Business". His Broadway musical and 1943 film This is the Army, with Ronald Reagan, had Kate Smith singing Berlin's "God Bless America" which was first performed in 1938.

Berlin's songs have reached the top of the charts 25 times and have been extensively re-recorded by numerous singers including The Andrews Sisters, Perry Como, Eddie Fisher, Al Jolson, Fred Astaire, Ethel Merman, Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Elvis Presley, Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, Linda Ronstadt, Rosemary Clooney, Cher, Diana Ross, Bing Crosby, Sarah Vaughan, Ruth Etting, Fanny Brice, Marilyn Miller, Rudy Vallée, Nat King Cole, Billie Holiday, Doris Day, Jerry Garcia, Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Ella Fitzgerald, Michael Buble, Lady Gaga, and Christina Aguilera.

Berlin died in 1989 at the age of 101. Composer Douglas Moore sets Berlin apart from all other contemporary songwriters, and includes him instead with Stephen Foster, Walt Whitman, and Carl Sandburg, as a "great American minstrel"—someone who has "caught and immortalized in his songs what we say, what we think about, and what we believe." Composer George Gershwin called him "the greatest songwriter that has ever lived", and composer Jerome Kern concluded that "Irving Berlin has no place in American music—he is American music."

Birth and Death Data: Born May 11th, 1888 (Tyumen;Talačyn), Died New York City

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1909 - 1953

Roles Represented in DAHR: composer, lyricist, songwriter, vocalist

Recordings (Results 226-250 of 1466 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Victor B-31661 10-in. 1/19/1925 Tell her in the springtime Grace Moore Female vocal solo, with orchestra composer, lyricist  
Victor B-31662 10-in. 1/19/1925 Listening Grace Moore Female vocal solo, with orchestra composer, lyricist  
Victor B-31663 10-in. 1/19/1925 Rock-a-bye baby Grace Moore Female vocal solo, with orchestra composer, lyricist  
Victor B-31726 10-in. 1/16/1925 Tokio blues Brox Sisters Female vocal trio, with piano composer, lyricist  
Victor B-31727 10-in. 1/16/1925 Who Brox Sisters Female vocal trio, with piano composer, lyricist  
Victor B-31751 10-in. 1/22/1925 All alone International Novelty Orchestra Orchestra composer  
Victor BVE-32747 10-in. 7/1/1925 You forgot to remember Paul Whiteman Orchestra Jazz/dance band, with male vocal solo (takes 5-8); unaccompanied (takes 1-4) composer  
Victor BVE-33329 10-in. 8/19/1925 You forgot to remember Henry Burr ; Rudy Wiedoeft Male vocal solo, with saxophone and piano (takes 1-4 and 9-12); with violin, saxophone, and piano (takes 5-8) composer  
Victor BVE-33378 10-in. 9/10/1925 You forgot to remember Victor Salon Orchestra Orchestra composer  
Victor BVE-33464 10-in. 10/14/1925 You forgot to remember John McCormack Tenor vocal solo, with orchestra composer  
Victor BVE-33612 10-in. 11/13/1925 Don't wait too long Art Landry Orchestra Jazz/dance band (takes 7-10); with male vocal solo (takes 1-6) composer  
Victor BVE-33883 10-in. 11/19/1925 A little bungalow Roger Wolfe Kahn Orchestra Jazz/dance band composer  
Victor BVE-34025 10-in. 12/11/1925 You forgot to remember Jesse Crawford Pipe organ solo composer  
Victor BVE-34101 10-in. 11/27/1925 Lucky boy Roger Wolfe Kahn Orchestra Jazz/dance band composer  
Victor BVE-34179 10-in. 12/28/1925 The monkey doodle-doo Busse's Buzzards Jazz/dance band composer  
Victor BVE-34288 10-in. 1/21/1926 A little bungalow Franklyn Baur ; Helen Clark Female-male vocal duet, with orchestra composer, lyricist  
Victor BVE-34305 10-in. 1/7/1926 ¿Recuerdas? Mariano Meléndez Male vocal solo, with orchestra composer  
Victor BVE-34360 10-in. 1/26/1926 Don't wait too long The Revelers Male vocal quartet, with piano lyricist, composer  
Victor CVE-34523 12-in. 2/3/1926 Gems from Cocoanuts Victor Light Opera Company Vocal chorus and soloists, with orchestra composer, lyricist  
Victor BVE-34552 10-in. 2/8/1926 Always Henry Burr Male vocal solo, with orchestra lyricist, composer  
Victor BVE-34569 10-in. 2/25/1926 Always Jesse Crawford Pipe organ solo composer  
Victor BVE-34601 10-in. 2/5/1926 Always George Olsen and his Music Jazz/dance band, with male vocal trio lyricist, composer  
Victor BVE-34616 10-in. 2/15/1926 Always Victor Salon Orchestra Orchestra composer  
Victor BVE-34640 10-in. 2/23/1926 Always International Novelty Orchestra Orchestra composer  
Victor BVE-34682 10-in. 3/5/1926 Tú siempre José Moriche Male vocal solo, with violin and guitar (takes 2-4); with violin, saxophone, and piano (take 1) composer  
(Results 226-250 of 1466 records)

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Berlin, Irving," accessed October 30, 2020, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/101971.

Berlin, Irving. (2020). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved October 30, 2020, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/101971.

"Berlin, Irving." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2020. Web. 30 October 2020.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/101971

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