Irving Berlin: A Life in Song

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9780028648156: Irving Berlin: A Life in Song

To chronicle the life of "America's songster", Furia draws on original research and documents from the Berlin estate to provide a full picture of Berlin's life and achievements. 30 illustrations. Index.

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From Publishers Weekly:

The songwriting accomplishments of Irving Berlin (1888-1989) are staggering: "Most songwriters dream of having a single hit song in a lifetime. More than half?451?of Berlin's songs became hits, and 282 of these" reached the Top Ten, according to Furia, an English professor at the University of North Carolina, in this brisk, enjoyable biography. Born Israel Baline in Russia, Berlin moved to New York City with his Russian-Jewish family at age five, learning songwriting fundamentals as a singing waiter in a Chinatown bar/brothel. By age 23, he was a rich wunderkind with some 200 hit songs, and hundreds more to follow. How could Berlin, who had no formal music education and who played the piano in just one key, so quickly achieve the perfect marriage of music and words in classics like "White Christmas," "Easter Parade," "God Bless America" and "There's No Business Like Show Business"? Furia credits Berlin's innate genius, rigorous perfectionism and flair, perhaps greater than any other American songwriter's, for creating so many works that are both timeless and evocative of a specific era. He effectively portrays Berlin as a lonely, hardworking dynamo who composed almost until the day he died, yet who spent his last years as a bitter recluse, and convincingly identifies his broader achievements: completing the Americanization of the Broadway musical with Annie Get Your Gun (1946), revitalizing Tin Pan Alley and shepherding songwriting from Broadway to Hollywood. Scores of photos enliven a narrative studded with cameos of such luminaries as Fred Astaire, Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Florenz Ziegfeld, P.G. Wodehouse and Dorothy Parker, to name a few.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal:

Furia (English, Univ. of North Carolina) continues his series of books on the history of American popular music (e.g., The Poets of Tin Pan Alley, LJ 8/90) with this biography of Irving Berlin. Furia draws on several recent works, including Laurence Bergreen's As Thousands Cheer: The Life of Irving Berlin (LJ 6/1/90) and Charles Hamm's Irving Berlin: Songs from the Melting Pot (LJ 4/1/97), as well as newly available archival information. A major emphasis, which goes beyond other works on Berlin, is Furia's entertaining study of Berlin's role in movie musicals. Another Berlin biography (Irving Berlin: American Troubadour, Holt, 1998) by musicologist Edward Jablonski is being published almost simultaneously, making the field somewhat crowded. Furia's previous titles remain in demand, however, so larger music collections will want to add this to their other Berlin biographies. Smaller collections with no other biography will find this satisfying for a wide range of readers.?James E. Ross, WLN, Seattle
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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