Unity Club learns about Irving Berlin


October 18, 2018 - 11:39 AM

Irving Berlin wrote some 1,500 songs, even though he could play piano in only one key and never learned to read music or transcribe it.

Rose Marie Riley presented a program about Berlin at Monday’s Unity Club meeting at Calvary Methodist Church. She reviewed two books, “Irving Berlin: American Troubadour” by Edward Jablonski and “Irving Berlin: A Daughter’s Memoir” by Mary Ellin Barrett.

Berlin was born in czarist Russia in 1888. His family immigrated to America in 1893 and settled in a tenement on New York’s Lower East Side. He ran away from home at 13 and worked by singing in disreputable Bowery bars. He was signed as a song plugger and lyricist for a Tin Pan Alley music publisher.

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