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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 September 22nd, 1989 (New York City)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1909 - 1953

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

Recordings (Results 1451-1475 of 1478 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Decca 75009 6/22/1949 (Just one way to say) I love you Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians composer, lyricist  
Decca 75010 6/22/1949 Give me your tired, your poor-1 Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians composer, lyricist  
Decca 75011 6/22/1949 Paris wakes up and smiles Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians composer, lyricist  
Decca 75012 6/22/1949 You can have him Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians composer, lyricist  
Decca 75013 6/22/1949 The policeman's ball Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians composer, lyricist  
Decca 75014 6/22/1949 Little fish in a big pond Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians composer, lyricist  
Decca 75015 6/22/1949 Homework Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians composer, lyricist  
Decca 80041 10/17/1950 The best thing for you Ethel Merman composer  
Decca 80042 10/17/1950 Marrying for love Ethel Merman composer  
Decca 80043 10/17/1950 Something to dance about Ethel Merman composer  
Decca 80044 10/17/1950 You're just in love Ethel Merman composer  
Decca 80045 10/17/1950 Once upon a time today Ethel Merman composer  
Decca 80046 10/17/1950 It's a lovely day today Dick Haymes ; Eileen Wilson composer  
Decca 80047 10/17/1950 I guess I'll have to dream the rest Dick Haymes composer, lyricist  
Decca 80182 11/20/1950 Washington Square dance Ethel Merman composer  
Decca 80183 11/20/1950 The hostess with the Mostes' on the ball Ethel Merman composer  
Decca 80184 11/20/1950 Can you use any money today? Ethel Merman composer  
Decca 84038 3/3/1953 The hostess with the mostes' on the ball Ethel Merman composer, lyricist  
Decca 84039 3/3/1953 Can't you use any money today ; International rag Ethel Merman composer, lyricist  
Decca 84040 3/3/1953 Marrying for love George Sanders composer, lyricist  
Decca 84041 3/3/1953 It's a lovely day today Carol (Carole) Richards composer, lyricist  
Decca 84042 3/3/1953 You're just in love Ethel Merman composer, lyricist  
Decca 84043 3/3/1953 (Dance to the music of) The ocarina Carol (Carole) Richards composer, lyricist  
Decca 84044 3/3/1953 What chance have I with love Donald O'Connor composer, lyricist  
Decca 84045 3/3/1953 Something to dance about Donald O'Connor ; Carol (Carole) Richards composer, lyricist  
(Results 1451-1475 of 1478 records)

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Berlin, Irving," accessed December 1, 2020, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/101971.

Berlin, Irving. (2020). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved December 1, 2020, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/101971.

"Berlin, Irving." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2020. Web. 1 December 2020.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

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

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