Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Irving Berlin

Probably the most famous and most important songwriter of the twentieth century, Irving Berlin was active in the music industry for almost sixty years. He wrote over a thousand songs, including some of the most famous and successful numbers of all-time, such as ''White Christmas'' and ''God Bless America.''

Born in a poor Russian Jewish ghetto, Berlin's parents immigrated to America when he was five, settling in New York's Lower East Side. As a young boy he sang on the streets for pennies to help support his family after his father died. Though he couldn't read music he taught himself enough piano to began writing songs. He sold his first number, ''Marie of Sunny Italy,'' in 1907. In 1911 he had his first big hit with ''Alexander's Ragtime Band.'' Two years later he married his first wife, who died soon after from typhoid she had contracted on their honeymoon. He married again in 1926, and the couple remained together until her death in 1988.

In 1919 Berlin formed his own music publishing company, still in existance today. He also co-founded ASCAP. Over the years Berlin wrote dozens of plays and films. His song ''Blue Skies'' was featured in the first talkie, The Jazz Singer. He retired from Hollywood in 1957 and from Broadway in 1962.

Berlin dedicated his life to his work, not having any hobbies or past-times. Never learning to read or play music he used a special piano to help him compose. Berlin was also well-known for his patriotism and charity. He supported the war effort during both World Wars and established several foundations in his lifetime. He signed over all royalties from his song ''God Bless America'' to the Boy Scouts.


Marie M said...

I love this post Elizabeth!! I did not know about Irving Berlin, I like that he gave all the royalties to the Boy scouts!!

Davene said...

Very interesting...thanks!

Meredith said...

Hi Elizabeth! You're a very good writer. That's really interesting about Irving Berlin. I ought to blog educational things or book reports more often... It's nice to learn something educational and useful when you're just expecting to read up on what someone's been up to (of course that's fun too!)!

Hope you're having a great week!

Davene said...

I've been tagged! My first time. :) So now I have to tag others, and I put your name down. For details, check my blog. And you know, if you don't want to do it, no problem with me! :)

I was gonna tag your sister, too, but then decided not to because you probably will. Aren't I nice to leave her for you? :)

Jaedan's Mom said...

I love this song! Thanks for the info.

Elizabeth said...

Maredith, Thank you for the compliment, but actually there is this really nice think called copy and paste! I wish I could write that well! I was looking up Irving Berlin and loved what I found on him and decided to post him on my blog =)

Is that allowed? I hope so, if not im in trouble! =)

Davene, Thanks for tagging me! I will have to figure out who I should tag next!

Everyone else thanks for your comments!