Israel Baline, a Russian-born Jew, was born in a time of great turmoil in the empire of Russia.
Russian pogroms intensely persecuted Jews over a three-year period from 1903 to 1906. If you are familiar with the musical “Fiddler On The Roof”, you can understand why his family wisely chose to immigrate to our shores a couple years before the pogroms took place.
The wedding day of Tzeitel and Motel
A natural singer, young Israel started off as a street singer. In a few years, he became the toast of the nation for the creation songs that touch the hearts of patriotic Americans to this day.
Along the way from street singer to a beloved songwriter, an American treasure, he adopted an accidental misspelling of his name. Israel Baline became Irving Berlin.
As a self-taught piano player who never learned to read music, he created a unique transposing keyboard which he would lift and move left or right to change key. You see, he could only play in the key of F#. Irving demonstrates his piano invention in the following video.
This prolific songwriter left us a treasure trove of musical entertainment. Click on this link for a list of his songs. His most popular and better-known songs include Puttin On The Ritz, White Christmas, and God Bless America.
Irving Berlin was born in Russia but he became the epitome of red-blooded Americans.
His family legally immigrated. Rather than segregating themselves from American society, they embraced it and became as American as, well, apple pie.
God bless America, land that I love.
I am forever thankful for Irving Berlin’s contributions to our country. It is people like this man who truly define America as exceptional.