From patriotic "God Bless America" to wistful "White Christmas," Irving Berlin's songs have long accompanied Americans as they fall in love, go to war, and come home for the holidays. Irving Berlin's American Musical Theater is the first book to fully consider this songwriter's immeasurable influence on the American stage. Award-winning music historian Jeffrey Magee chronicles Berlin's legendary theatrical career, providing a rich background to some of the great composer's most enduring songs, from "There's No Business Like Show Business" to "Puttin' on the Ritz." Magee shows how Berlin's early experience singing for pennies made an impression on the young man, who kept hold of that sensibility throughout his career and transformed it into one of the defining attributes of Broadway shows. Magee also looks at darker aspects of Berlin's life, examining the anti-Semitism that Berlin faced and his struggle with depression. Informative, provocative, and full of colorful details, this book will delight song and theater aficionados alike as well as anyone interested in the story of a man whose life and work expressed so well the American dream.
Jeffrey Magee is Associate Professor of Music and Theater at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and author of The Uncrowned King of Swing, winner of the Irving Lowens Award from the Society for American Music.
Preface ; Introduction: Irving Berlin's Century ; 1. Irving Berlin's Theater ; 2. Legitimate Vaudeville: The Dillingham Shows, 1914-1915 ; 3. Berlin's Follies, 1918-1919 ; 4. "America's Greatest Show": The Music Box Revues, 1921-1924 ; 5. "An Ideal Combination": Berlin, Kaufman, and Hart, 1920s-1930s ; 6. Musical Theater of War: This Is the Army, 1942-1945 ; 7. Something for the Girls: Annie Get Your Gun, 1945-Present ; 8. State of the Union: Berlin, Lindsay and Crouse, 1950-1962 ; Conclusion: "This Is America" ; Bibliography