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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 126-150 of 1466 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Victor B-18189 10-in. 8/8/1916 When the black sheep comes home Henry Burr Male vocal solo, with orchestra composer, lyricist  
Victor B-18307 10-in. 8/11/1916 In Florida among the palms Sterling Trio Male vocal trio, with orchestra lyricist, composer  
Victor C-18529 12-in. 10/4/1916 When the sun goes down in Romany Victor Military Band Band composer  
Victor B-18786 10-in. 12/12/1916 The century girl Victor Military Band Band composer  
Victor B-18819 10-in. 12/7/1916 Alice in Wonderland Anna Howard ; Harry Macdonough Female-male vocal duet, with orchestra composer, lyricist  
Victor B-19143 10-in. 1/30/1917 From here to Shanghai Gene Greene ; Peerless Quartet Male vocal solo and male vocal quartet, with orchestra composer, lyricist  
Victor B-19145 10-in. 1/30/1917 Dance and grow thin Gene Greene Male vocal solo, with orchestra lyricist  
Victor B-19319 10-in. 2/28/1917 Let's all be Americans now American Quartet Male vocal quartet, with orchestra songwriter  
Victor B-19328 10-in. 3/1/1917 Dance and grow thin Van and Schenck Male vocal duet, with orchestra composer, lyricist  
Victor B-19330 10-in. 3/1/1917 There's something nice about the South Van and Schenck Male vocal duet, with orchestra lyricist, composer  
Victor B-19367 10-in. 3/13/1917 From here to Shanghai Victor Military Band Band composer  
Victor B-19540 10-in. 3/30/1917 They've got me doing it too Van and Schenck Male vocal duet, with orchestra composer, lyricist  
Victor B-19755 10-in. 5/8/1917 For your country and my country Willie Weston Male vocal solo, with orchestra composer, lyricist  
Victor C-19780 12-in. 5/14/1917 For me and my gal Joseph C. Smith's Orchestra Jazz/dance band composer  
Victor B-19848 10-in. 5/9/1917 For me and my gal Six Brown Brothers Saxophone sextet composer  
Victor B-19893 10-in. 5/24/1917 For your country and my country Frances Alda Soprano vocal solo, with orchestra composer, lyricist  
Victor C-20377 12-in. 7/9/1917 Huckleberry Finn Conway's Band Band composer  
Victor B-20378 10-in. 7/9/1917 For your country and my country Conway's Band Band composer  
Victor B-20440 10-in. 7/24/1917 Whose little heart are you breaking now? Henry Burr ; Albert Campbell Male vocal duet, with orchestra lyricist, composer  
Victor B-20457 10-in. 7/26/1917 How can I forget Alan Turner Male vocal solo, with bells and orchestra composer, lyricist  
Victor B-20631 10-in. 8/15/1917 Mr. Jazz himself Eddie Nelson Male vocal solo, with orchestra lyricist, composer  
Victor B-20920 10-in. 10/29/1917 My sweetie Joseph C. Smith's Orchestra Jazz/dance band composer  
Victor B-21053 10-in. 11/5/1917 My sweetie Marion Harris Female vocal solo, with orchestra lyricist, composer  
Victor B-21081 10-in. 11/13/1917 Someone else may be there while I'm gone Eddie Nelson Male vocal solo, with orchestra lyricist, composer  
Victor B-21425 10-in. 1/24/1918 I'll take you back to Italy Ada Jones ; Billy Murray Female-male vocal duet, with orchestra lyricist, composer  
(Results 126-150 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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