Popular music would not be the same today without the legendary songwriter and composer, Irving Berlin. His death in 1989 at 101 ended an era in American music that influenced generations of musicians. His story is a rich one, from his humble origins in Russia to his meagre existence on Cherry Street in Lower Manhattan and then his spectacular ...
Popular music would not be the same today without the legendary songwriter and composer, Irving Berlin. His death in 1989 at 101 ended an era in American music that influenced generations of musicians. His story is a rich one, from his humble origins in Russia to his meagre existence on Cherry Street in Lower Manhattan and then his spectacular rise to fame and wealth. Barrett puts her father's life and work into perspective and reveals the truth behind certain darker and more mysterious elements of the Berlin legend. This biography introduces the reader into a world of songs, top hats, love affairs, adversity overcome, and a parade of the most glamorous, accomplished and beautiful people of their time.
This definitive book is a joy - beautifully written by a born writer who has chosen her words well to give the reader a clear and intimate look into the life of Irving Berlin and his family. The writing is so good that you will grieve when you finish the book.
The author, born in 1926, oldest child of Irving Berlin and Ellin Mackay, grew up in a sort of paradise, with lovely homes, sometimes three pianos and plenty of money. However, her father was Jewish and grew up if not in poverty, then austerity, while her mother was an heiress, daughter of Clarence Mackay, proprietor of the Postal Telegraph and Cable Co., who fought the alliance and sent his daughter off to Europe to forget. He lost, and the result was a marriage of love loyalty and closeness. There were low times: the death of a son soon after his birth, Irving's depressions, and difficult occasions for Mary Ellin growing up and not being welcome in certain homes and schools, due to the racial 'quicksands' of the times. But as Berlin's fame grew, this ceased to be an issue, for who could cold-shoulder the man who wrote "White Christmas", "God Bless America" and created such a rich heritage of songs for the world? The author was lucky: her parents guided their children with delicacy and commonsense and Irving Berlin comes across as gentle and wise.
There was a big expanse of time to write about - Irving Berlin lived to 101, but not one word is extraneous, not one sentence boring, not one paragraph anything less than sparkling with fascinating information and generosity. This is a candid and elegant memoir, and to read it for that first time is an 'occasion'.
Publishers Weekly, 1994-10-03 Irving Berlin's (1888-1989) oldest daughter here tells of growing up with the composer of some of America's most popular songs, including ``White Christmas,'' ``God Bless America'' and ``Easter Parade.'' Barrett (An Accident of Love) details her parents' well-publicized romance and marriage, which scandalized her mother's family, and describes life in a household with a Catholic mother from one of the country's wealthiest families and a Jewish father who earned millions with his music though his parents were penniless Russian immigrants. It was a storybook childhood, with loving parents, governesses and innumerable servants; homes in Los Angeles, the Catskills and New York City; and daily contact with the rich and the famous. Yet there was a dark side: the death of the Berlins' infant son; ``dry spells'' when the composer could not write; and periods of depression for both him and his wife, culminating in his later years as a virtual recluse. Barrett's bittersweet memoir is affectionate yet candid. Photos not seen by PW. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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