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.
Magee's critically incisive and illuminating portrait, copiously illustrated with lyrics and musical excerpts, sets the bar impressively high for any future explorations of Berlin's achievements on Broadway. (Classical Music Magazine
[A] very welcome book, the first to focus on the span of Berlin's career in American musical theatre ... Drawing on extensive archival resources, Magee includes both musicological and literary analysis along with the sociological setting with a thoroughness that often enlightens. (George Bornstein, Times Literary Supplement