When asked to comment on Irving Berlin's place in American music, Jerome Kern famously declared: "Irving Berlin has no place in American music—he is American music," None of his contemporaries in an era of great songwriters that included Kern, George and Ira Gershwin, Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, and Cole Porter wrote so many standard American songs. His fifteen hundred songs display an extraordinary range of material and moods: "White Christmas," "There's No Business Like Show Business," "Remember," "Always," "Blue Skies," "Cheek to Cheek," "Puttin' on the Ritz."
This intensely American troubador was born in Russia and arrived in America when he was five. His father died when...
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