The Melting Pot: Russian Jewish New York

Case 4: Entertainers > Irving Berlin

IRVING BERLIN (1888-1989) was born Israel Isidore Beilin in Tiumen’, Russia and immigrated to America in 1893.

Composer and lyricist, one of the most prodigious and famous American songwriters in history.

Few artists have left the mark on American culture that Irving Berlin has. He was at the forefront of every form of mass popular culture: sheet music, the Broadway stage, radio, records, film, and television. American culture also left its mark on Berlin. He took a variety of ethnic dialects and melodies, the strains of  classical music and opera, the roar of the city, the wit of the Algonquin Round Table, the bravado of Broadway, and a larger-than-life Hollywood, and transmuted those elements into his own idiom: songs that speak to and for everyone. 

Though an immigrant himself, Berlin formed an idea of America that was all-inclusive. He transformed religious holidays into national celebrations with his songs "White Christmas" and "Easter Parade". His "Alexander’s Ragtime Band" is considered as "the real father of all ragtime, all jazz, all swing" and his "God Bless America" became the Ameirican “unofficial national anthem.”



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