“Irving Berlin has no place in American music
– he is American music.” ~Jerome Kern
Irving Berlin was born Israel Beilin on May 11, 1888. In 1907 he published his first song, “Marie from Sunny Italy,” and by 1911 he had his first major international hit — “Alexander’s Ragtime Band.” Over the next five decades, Irving Berlin produced an outpouring of ballads, dance numbers, novelty tunes and love songs that defined American popular song for much of the century. He wrote seventeen complete scores for Broadway musicals and revues, and contributed material to six more. His songs have provided memorable moments in dozens of…films. An intuitive business man, Irving Berlin was a co-founder of ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers), founder of his own music publishing company, and with producer Sam Harris, builder of his own Broadway theatre, The Music Box.
In the late 19th century the sheet music business dominated the music industry in the United States. Parlor music took over the scene as the piano became a part of the middle class home. This led to a demand for sheet music for home consumption. The genre that grew out of this demand was called Tin Pan Alley, from the area of New York City where most of the song publishers were located. Success was measured by the sale of sheet music. To attract business, sheet music publishers hired artists to make beautiful covers…In the early 20th century the phonograph and recorded music grew in popularity and began to replace sheet music. In the 1920s, radio became the rage and eventually the record industry replaced the sheet music publishers as the prevailing music medium.