Biography of Irving Berlin: – American composer of Russian origin. Born into a Jewish family, Berlin and his relatives escaped from a pogrom when he was four years old and decided to settle in the United States. In 1896, the year his father died, he had to go to work singing through the streets and bars. He began earning a living as a waiter-singer at a prestigious restaurant in Chinatown and learned to play the piano self-taught.
Biography of Irving Berlin
- Born:- 11 May 1888, Russian Empire
- Died:- 22 September 1989, New York City, New York, United States
- Spouse:- Ellin Mackay (m. 1926–1988), Dorothy Goetz (m. 1912–1912)
- Children:- Mary Ellin Barrett, Linda Louise Emmet, Elizabeth Irving Peters, Irving Baline
- Albums:- The Songwriters Collection,
Her first lyrics were “Marie from Sunny Italy” with music by Michael Nicholson. During the first decade of the century he wrote mostly songs in Yiddish for artists such as Eddie Cantor or Fanny Brice, as well as numerous melodies for the New York-centered music publishing industry between 32nd Street and Broadway, popularly known as Tin Pan Alley. His interest in ragtime led him to compose in 1911 the lyrics and music of his first great success: the song entitled “Alexander’s Ragtime Band”. The following year he married Dorothy Goetz, who died a few months later because of pneumonia.
His first songs were included in shows like Hanky-Panky or in the popular Ziegfeld Follies, until in 1914 he wrote the complete score for the musical Watch your Step, composed entirely in ragtime. During World War I he wrote songs of patriotic tone, including “When I got back to the USA” and “For your country and my country”, and also composed some songs for the musical Yip, Yip, and Yaphank, conceived for the entertainment of US troops.
In 1921 he partnered with producer Sam M. Harris to build his own theater, the Music Box Theater, and perform musical comedies there. In 1926 he married Ellin Mackay, a young Catholic woman from New York high society who was disowned by her father when she heard the news. During the decade of the twenties, Irving Berlin dedicated to Mackay ballads like “All Alone”, “How About Me?” or “The Song is ended.”
During the decade of the Thirties he participated as a composer in the musical As Thousands Cheer (1933) and dedicated himself to write songs for the first musical films of Hollywood carried out by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers , among them Top Hat (1935) for which he wrote the popular “Cheek to cheek”, Follow The Fleet (1936) or Carefree (1938). That same year he took to the Alexander’s Ragtime Band, in which his old song of the same title appeared.
At the beginning of World War II he composed “God Bless America”, which would become one of the most famous patriotic songs in the United States, as well as the musical about solitude This is the Army , from which comes the song “This is the army , Mr. Jones. ” Irving Berlin began the decade of the 1940s with the Broadway musical Lousiana Purchase. In 1942 he wrote the songs for the Holiday Inn, starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire, including his popular Christmas Carol.
In 1946 she created the score that is considered her masterpiece: music for the stage show Annie Get Your Gun, based on the life of the West Annie Oakley character and starring Ethel Merman and Ray Middleton. This score was commissioned at the time to Jerome Kern, but died before finishing it and Berlin was chosen to replace him. Three years later, in 1949, she composed the music of another musical called Miss Liberty, which was much less successful than the previous one.
He began the next decade by putting music to the movie Call Me Madam (1951), starring Ethel Merman, and continued with two other films: White Christmas and There Is No Business Like Show Business , which included some of his old hits. In 1962 he composed the score of the musical comedy Mr. President and, four years later, the song “An Old Fashioned Wedding” for a replenishment of Annie Get Your Gun in the Lincoln Center of New York. After that, Berlin retired from the music scene and lived in his home in New York.
Despite his limited musical knowledge, Berlin composed more than 1,500 songs. He was not able to read sheet music (his assistant was transcribing his melodies) and playing the piano used only the black keys. In order to compose more easily it was made with an instrument called “piano transposition” that could change of tone if a mechanism that had inside was operated.
His contribution to American music was essential; hence the famous phrase of composer Jerome Kern: “There is no place for Irving Berlin in American music, he is American music.” In 1955, in recognition of his patriotism, President Eisenhower awarded him with a gold medal, and in 1963 he was awarded a Tony Award for his long career in musical theater.