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Irving Berlin: The Last of the Troubadours

Evening Program on Zoom

Wednesday, February 24, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. ET
Code: 1M2118
$25 - Member
$30 - Non-Member

Irving Berlin, 1938 (Rogers and Hammerstein Organization)


“Irving Berlin has no ‘place’ in American music—Irving Berlin is American music.” —Jerome Kern

Israel Baline began writing songs before he knew how to read music. By age 23, the self-taught pianist morphed from a waif of the Bowery slums into the musical icon known as Irving Berlin.

Berlin developed a unique voice that translated the most basic of emotions, merging poetry and music into a universal sentiment that was pleasurable to sing and easy to remember. More than  450 of his songs—including “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” “All Alone,” and “Blue Skies”—became hits; 60 percent of them reached the Top Ten list, a summit that no other American songwriter has approached.

American musical specialist Robert Wyatt covers Berlin’s extraordinary life, spanning a half-century of musical achievement, years that produced songs for Tin Pan Alley, the Broadway stage, radio, television, film, and a worldwide military audience. View archival film clips and listen to Ethel Merman, Fred Astaire, Ethel Waters, and Bing Crosby—along with Berlin himself singing “Oh! How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning.”


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This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.