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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 51-75 of 1466 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Victor B-12500 10-in. 10/9/1912 The Yiddisha professor Maurice Burkhart Male vocal solo, with orchestra composer  
Victor B-12502 10-in. 10/9/1912 The funny little melody Maurice Burkhart ; Walter Van Brunt Male vocal duet, with orchestra composer, lyricist  
Victor B-12566 10-in. 11/5/1912 When the midnight choo-choo leaves for Alabam' Collins and Harlan Male vocal duet, with orchestra composer, lyricist  
Victor B-12787 10-in. 1/10/1913 When I lost you Henry Burr Male vocal solo, with orchestra composer, lyricist  
Victor B-12859 10-in. 1/30/1913 Welcome home Peerless Quartet Male vocal quartet, with orchestra composer, lyricist  
Victor B-12948 10-in. 2/26/1913 Snookey Ookums Billy Murray Male vocal solo, with orchestra composer, lyricist  
Victor B-12968 10-in. 3/6/1913 At the devil's ball Peerless Quartet Male vocal quartet, with orchestra composer, lyricist  
Victor B-13006 10-in. 3/25/1913 In my harem Victor Military Band Band composer  
Victor B-13039 10-in. 3/31/1913 In my harem Billy Murray Male vocal solo, with orchestra composer, lyricist  
Victor B-13111 10-in. 4/11/1913 The old maid's ball Billy Murray Male vocal solo, with orchestra lyricist, composer  
Victor B-13166 10-in. 4/18/1913 San Francisco bound Peerless Quartet Male vocal quartet, with orchestra composer, lyricist  
Victor B-13385 10-in. 6/5/1913 They've got me doin' it now Elida Morris Female vocal solo, with orchestra composer, lyricist  
Victor B-13386 10-in. 6/5/1913 I was aviating around Elida Morris Female vocal solo, with orchestra composer  
Victor B-13387 10-in. 6/5/1913 Happy little country girl Elida Morris Female vocal solo, with orchestra composer, lyricist  
Victor B-13419 10-in. 6/11/1913 The Pullman porters on parade William J. Halley Male vocal solo, with orchestra lyricist  
Victor B-13463 10-in. 6/20/1913 Somebody's coming to my house Walter Van Brunt Male vocal solo, with orchestra lyricist, composer  
Victor B-13610 10-in. 7/18/1913 We have much to be thankful for "That Girl" Quartet Female vocal quartet, with orchestra composer, lyricist  
Victor B-13626 10-in. 7/23/1913 They've got me doin' it now Billy Murray Male vocal solo, with orchestra composer, lyricist  
Victor B-13716 10-in. 9/3/1913 The international rag Collins and Harlan Male vocal duet, with orchestra composer, lyricist  
Victor B-13946 10-in. 10/10/1913 You've got your mother's big blue eyes Lillian Davis [i.e., Marguerite Dunlap] Female vocal solo, with orchestra composer, lyricist  
Victor B-13953 10-in. 10/13/1913 The international rag Victor Military Band Band composer  
Victor B-13958 10-in. 10/15/1913 If you don't want me (Why do you hang around) Helen Clark ; Billy Murray Female-male vocal duet, with orchestra composer, lyricist  
Victor B-13979 10-in. 10/22/1913 There's a girl in Arizona Frank Croxton ; Byron G. Harlan Male vocal duet, with orchestra composer  
Victor B-14005 10-in. 10/29/1913 International rag Pietro Deiro Accordion solo composer  
Victor B-14010 10-in. 10/29/1913 Tra, la, la, la! Collins and Harlan Male vocal duet, with orchestra composer, lyricist  
(Results 51-75 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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