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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 101-125 of 1466 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Victor B-15608 10-in. 1/19/1915 Watch your step Victor Military Band Band composer  
Victor B-15651 10-in. 2/2/1915 Crackerjack medley fox trot Pietro Deiro Accordion solo composer  
Victor B-15686 10-in. 10/4/1915 When I leave the world behind Henry Burr Male vocal solo, with orchestra composer, lyricist  
Victor B-15733 10-in. 2/24/1915 The syncopated walk Peerless Quartet Male vocal quartet, with orchestra lyricist, composer  
Victor B-15746 10-in. 3/1/1915 Minstrel parade Collins and Harlan Male vocal duet, with orchestra lyricist, composer  
Victor B-15865 10-in. 4/7/1915 My bird of paradise Peerless Quartet Male vocal quartet, with orchestra lyricist, composer  
Victor B-16417 10-in. 8/30/1915 I love to stay at home Billy Murray Male vocal solo, with orchestra composer, lyricist  
Victor C-16513 12-in. 9/20/1915 Araby Conway's Band Band composer  
Victor B-16634 10-in. 10/11/1915 My bird of paradise Louise and Ferera Guitar duet (Hawaiian) composer  
Victor B-16665 10-in. 10/14/1915 Araby Harry Macdonough Male vocal solo, with orchestra composer, lyricist  
Victor B-16897 10-in. 12/14/1915 When I get back to the U.S.A Billy Murray Male vocal solo, with vocal chorus and orchestra lyricist, composer  
Victor B-16898 10-in. 12/14/1915 That hula hula Harry Macdonough Male vocal solo, with vocal chorus and orchestra lyricist, composer  
Victor C-16951 12-in. 1/3/1916 Stop, look, and listen Victor Military Band Band composer  
Victor B-16961 10-in. 1/4/1916 The girl on the magazine Harry Macdonough Male vocal solo, with orchestra lyricist, composer  
Victor B-16965 10-in. 1/5/1916 I love a piano Billy Murray Male vocal solo, with piano and orchestra lyricist, composer  
Victor B-16991 10-in. 1/10/1916 When you're down in Louisville (Call on me) Collins and Harlan Male vocal duet, with orchestra lyricist, composer  
Victor C-17229 12-in. 2/29/1916 Hello, Hawaii! Victor Military Band Band composer  
Victor B-17453 10-in. 4/5/1916 Cohen owes me ninety-seven dollars Rhoda Bernard Female vocal solo, with orchestra composer, lyricist  
Victor C-17476 12-in. 4/11/1916 Songs of the past, no. 12 Victor Mixed Chorus Vocal chorus and soloists, with orchestra lyricist  
Victor B-17587 10-in. 5/2/1916 Simple melody Elsie Baker Female vocal solo, with orchestra composer, lyricist  
Victor B-17588 10-in. 5/2/1916 Simple melody Edna Brown ; Billy Murray Female-male vocal duet, with orchestra composer, lyricist  
Victor B-17738 10-in. 5/29/1916 I've got a sweet tooth bothering me M. J. O'Connell Male vocal solo, with orchestra composer, lyricist  
Victor B-17798 10-in. 6/5/1916 Hurry back to my bamboo shack Alice Green Female vocal solo, with orchestra lyricist, composer  
Victor C-17819 12-in. 6/8/1916 When the sun goes down in Romany Victor Band Band composer, lyricist  
Victor B-18174 10-in. 8/3/1916 When the black sheep comes home Avon Comedy Four Male vocal quartet, with orchestra composer, lyricist  
(Results 101-125 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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