Music / Irving Berlin

Irving Berlin (1888-1989) is, without a doubt, the father of modern American music, and one of the most prolific composers of the early and mid twentieth century. His music has become an integral part of American musical culture. It is almost impossible for anyone alive to have not heard a song he wrote. His songs include "Alexander's Ragtime Band," "Puttin' on the Ritz,"note  "White Christmas", and "God Bless America."

List of film/theatre scores


This composer is an example of the following tropes:

  • An Immigrant's Tale: He was born in Russia and came to the U.S. as a child.
  • Christmas Songs: One of the most famous examples. "White Christmas", with a not-often-heard first verse.
  • Dreaming of a White Christmas: Trope Namer.
  • Never Learned to Read: Not only could he not read or write music, he could only play in one key! He had a special piano built with what was essentially a giant lever-operated capo if ever he needed to transpose something.
  • Protest Song: "I'll See You In C-U-B-A" about Prohibition.
  • Qurac: "Araby", one of his early hits, and also an example of Arabian Nights/Days, which gave him his surname (due to a typo on the sheet music, "Baline" came out as "Berlin".
  • The Roaring '20s: Wrote songs which appeared in revues during this period.
  • Tin Pan Alley: Wrote some of the best songs.

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