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 11, 1888 (Tyumen), Died September 22, 1989 (New York City)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1909 - 1953

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

= Recordings are available for online listening.
= Recordings were issued from this master. No recordings issued from other masters.

Recordings (Results 151-175 of 1585 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Victor B-21923 10-in. 5/16/1918 They were all out of step but Jim Billy Murray Male vocal solo, with orchestra lyricist, composer  
Victor B-22113 10-in. 7/1/1918 I'm gonna pin my medal on the girl I left behind Peerless Quartet Male vocal quartet, with orchestra lyricist, composer  
Victor B-22118 10-in. 7/8/1918 Oh, how I hate to get up in the morning Arthur Fields Male vocal solo, with orchestra lyricist, composer  
Victor B-22197 10-in. 8/7/1918 Big chief Killahun Collins and Harlan Male vocal duet, with orchestra lyricist, composer  
Victor B-22253 10-in. 9/24/1918 Dream on little soldier boy John McCormack Tenor vocal solo, with orchestra lyricist  
Victor B-22261 10-in. 9/27/1918 I can always find a little sunshine in the YMCA Lambert Murphy ; Orpheus Quartet Male vocal quartet and soloist, with orchestra composer, lyricist  
Victor B-22437 10-in. 11/27/1918 Goodbye France Peerless Quartet Male vocal quartet, with orchestra lyricist, composer  
Victor B-22964 10-in. 7/18/1919 Mandy Selvin's Novelty Orchestra Jazz/dance band composer  
Victor B-23026 10-in. 6/23/1919 A pretty girl is like a melody John Steel Male vocal solo, with violin and orchestra lyricist, composer  
Victor B-23041 10-in. 6/30/1919 Mandy Shannon Four Male vocal quartet, with orchestra composer, lyricist  
Victor B-23090 10-in. 7/23/1919 Nobody knows (And nobody seems to care) Esther Walker Female vocal solo, with violin duet and orchestra lyricist, composer  
Victor B-23092 10-in. 7/25/1919 I've got my captain working for me now Billy Murray Male vocal solo, with orchestra lyricist, composer  
Victor B-23106 10-in. 8/4/1919 The hand that rocked my cradle rules my heart John Steel Male vocal solo, with orchestra lyricist, composer  
Victor B-23197 10-in. 10/8/1919 The new moon Charles Harrison Male vocal solo, with orchestra composer, lyricist  
Victor B-23277 10-in. 9/25/1919 I've got my captain working for me now Joseph C. Smith's Orchestra Jazz/dance band composer  
Victor B-23305 10-in. 10/22/1919 Nobody knows Joseph C. Smith's Orchestra Jazz/dance band composer  
Victor B-23357 10-in. 11/25/1919 You'd be surprised All Star Trio Instrumental trio composer  
Victor B-23380 10-in. 12/16/1919 Harem life Paul Biese’s Novelty Orchestra Jazz/dance band composer  
Victor B-23483 10-in. 11/19/1919 You'd be surprised Billy Murray Male vocal solo, with orchestra lyricist, composer  
Victor B-23541 10-in. 12/19/1919 Was there ever a pal like you? Henry Burr Male vocal solo, with orchestra lyricist, composer  
Victor B-23597 10-in. 1/22/1920 I'll see you in C-U-B-A Billy Murray Male vocal solo, with orchestra composer, lyricist  
Victor B-23808 10-in. 2/26/1920 I'll see you in C-U-B-A Rudy Wiedoeft's Palace Trio Instrumental trio composer  
Victor B-24056 10-in. 5/14/1920 But she's just a little bit crazy about her husband, that's all All Star Trio Instrumental trio composer  
Victor B-24107 10-in. 5/12/1920 After you get what you want, you don't want it Esther Walker Female vocal solo, with orchestra lyricist, composer  
Victor C-24232 12-in. 8/3/1920 Ziegfeld follies of 1920 Joseph C. Smith's Orchestra Jazz/dance band composer  
(Results 151-175 of 1585 records)

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Berlin, Irving," accessed December 7, 2022, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/101971.

Berlin, Irving. (2022). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved December 7, 2022, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/101971.

"Berlin, Irving." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2022. Web. 7 December 2022.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

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

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