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Born: 1888, Tyumin, RussiaDied: 1989, New York, New YorkThe young Israel Baline moved to New York with his family at age five. After working as a street singer, a singing waiter, and a Tin Pan Alley song plugger, he composed his first hit (“Alexander’s Ragtime Band”) in 1911. Before long he was writing songs for Vernon and Irene Castle and appearing in his own revues. 1919 saw the formation of his own publishing company. Songs for Broadway and Hollywood continued through the 1930s and ’40s, including “Heat Wave,” “White Christmas,” and other hits, along with anthems such as “God Bless America.” At his death at age 101, Berlin was acclaimed as perhaps the greatest songwriter of the 20th century.Further listening:Annie Get Your Gun1966 Music Theaterof Lincoln Center revivalMerman, Yarnell, Orbach(Masterworks Broadway)The Irving Berlin SongbookElla Fitzgerald;Paul Weston, arr., cond.(Verve)