Irving Berlin - "This Is the Life!"
Bernadette Boerckel, soprano & comedienne; Daniel Marcus, tenor & comedian; Edward Pleasant, baritone; Heather Hill, soprano; Thomas Carle, tenor; The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra; Rick Benjamin, conductor & piano


"Our explorations here strip away a century of "updates" to experience Berlin's music as it was heard when new. With the use of rediscovered historic period scores, I have put together a program from what I consider to be Berlin's "breakthrough" period - from 1909, the year of his first words and music hit, to 1921, when he became the first songwriter ever to build a Broadway theater to showcase his own creativity." - Rick Benjamin

Composer/lyricist Irving Berlin (1888­ - 1989) remains an American cultural icon. His extraordinary genius took him on a journey extending from the birth of the pop music industry ("Tin Pan Alley"), to the stages of Broadway, and into the hearts of millions through the mediums of radio, movies, and television. Over six decades, Berlin's 1,500 songs became the virtual "soundtrack" of 20th century American life.

While Berlin's classic middle- and late-period works are still known and loved around the world, the music that launched him as "America's greatest songwriter" in the 1900s and '10s is now forgotten and largely unavailable. Yet from a cultural perspective, these early years are Berlin's most fascinating and perhaps most important: through them, Israel Baline - an impoverished immigrant who spoke no English and never studied music - transformed himself and the face of American popular music. As "Irving Berlin," he became an extraordinary commentator on our national life and in a breathtakingly short time was making his own considerable influences upon it.

Ranging from his explosive 1907 arrival as "The Ragtime King" into the dawn of the Jazz Age (1917 - 1922), the album highlights Berlin's songs for vaudeville, revue, and the Broadway stage. Of particular interest are rediscovered scores from Berlin's first musical - the legendary Watch Your Step (1914). All selections are performed from rare historic orchestrations prepared by Irving Berlin's own staff arrangers and orchestrators. The recording is accompanied by an extensive booklet giving insights into overlooked aspects of Berlin's career, including his curious working methods, as well as his brilliant successes as the publisher of his own creations and proprietor of a true, pioneering "entertainment empire."

Paragon Ragtime Orchestra

Irving Berlin - "This Is the Life!"

MP3/320 $9.99
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CD $15.99

Track Listing

Everybody's Doin' It Now
Irving Berlin
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I Love a Piano
Irving Berlin
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Oh! How I Hate to Get up in the Morning!
Irving Berlin
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Tell Me, Little Gypsy
Irving Berlin
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Play a Simple Melody
Irving Berlin
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Nobody Knows (and Nobody Seems to Care)
Irving Berlin
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Overture to Watch Your Step
Irving Berlin
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Say It with Music
Irving Berlin
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Smile and Show Your Dimple
Irving Berlin
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My Melody Dream
Irving Berlin
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When I Lost You
Irving Berlin
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This Is the Life!
Irving Berlin
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A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody
Irving Berlin
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Alexander's Ragtime Band
Irving Berlin
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Home Again Blues
Irving Berlin
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You'd Be Surprised
Irving Berlin
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That Mesmerizing Mendelssohn Tune
Irving Berlin
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The Girls of My Dreams
Irving Berlin
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The International Rag
Irving Berlin
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When I Leave the World Behind
Irving Berlin
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Finale to Act II ("Opera Medley") From Watch Your Step
Irving Berlin
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