Russian-born Irving Berlin (Israel Baline), a former singing waiter, fused the worlds of Stephen Foster, Tin Pan Alley and
Broadway in his simple, unpretentious hit songs:
Alexander's Ragtime Band (1911), that sounded more like a military march than a ragtime,
Everybody's Doing It (1911) for Eddie Cantor,
Woodman Spare That Tree (1911),
When That Midnight Choo-Choo Leaves for Alabama (1912),
When I Lost You (1912), his first ballad and a requiem for his late wife,
Play a Simple Melody and Syncopated Walk, off his first musical, Watch Your Step (1914), influenced by ragtime, composed for dancers Vernon and Irene Castle,
I Love A Piano (1915),
God Bless America (1917) and Oh How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning (1918), off the musical Yip Yip Yaphank (1918),
A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody (1919), the signature song of the Ziegfeld follies.
Their exuberance became the soundtrack of the Broadway musical in its infancy,
merging syncopation (the craze of Tin Pan Alley) and melodrama.
Later, Berlin continued to compose songs that defined their era:
Oh How I Hate To Get Up In The Morning (1918),
All Alone (1924),
the musical The Cocoanuts (1925) for the Marx Brothers,
Blue Skies, off the first talking movie, The Jazz Singer (1927),
Let Me Sing and I'm Happy and Looking at You, off Michael Curtiz's film Mammy (1930),
the revue As Thousands Cheer (1933), that included Easter Parade,
the musical As Thousands Cheer (1935), with Soft Lights And Sweet Music and Supper Time.
He also wrote songs for films, mostly sung by Fred Astaire:
Top Hat (1935), that included Cheek to Cheek and Isn't This A Lovely Day,
Follow The Fleet (1936), with Let's Face The Music and Dance,
On The Avenue (1937), with I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm,
Carefree (1938), with Change Partners.
Some of his old songs, such as Heat Wave (1933) and Easter Parade (1933), were used in later films.
The soundtrack of Holiday Inn (1942) included White Christmas (sung by Bing Crosby), soon to become the all-time best selling song.
His best musical was perhaps Annie Get Your Gun (1946), that contained
There's No Business Like Show Business and Anything you Can Do.
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