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The Irving Berlin Reader (Readers on American Musicians) Hardcover – April 6, 2012

4.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"What a wonderful glance into the musical past! Benjamin Sears has assembled, organized and notated a fan's paradise of writing on and by Irving Berlin. And what a spectrum: from the master giving hints on how a song should be written, to a famous critic completely mis-judging Berlin's greatest theater score. This takes you back to another time and place, and brings Irving Berlin alive again. All in all, a great read." --Ted Chapin, President, Rodgers & Hammerstein

"The Irving Berlin Reader is an engrossing documentary biography that will delight both the casual music lover and the hardcore Berlinophile. Item after item brings up fascinating details about not only Berlin's life and work but also the workings of Tin Pan Alley, Broadway, and Hollywood at the height of the studio system--and Berlin was at the forefront of each of those institutions when it reached its artistic peak. To understand Irving Berlin is to understand almost everything important about a wide swath of America's popular music history." --Larry Hamberlin, author, Tin Pan Opera: Operatic Novelty Songs in the Ragtime Era

"A valuable collection of commentary by and about a great American songwriter, compiled by a unique performer-scholar with a long and special affinity for his subject." --Jeffrey Magee, author of Irving Berlin's American Musical Theater

"Gives us several shades of Irving, and a sense of who he was behind the self-imposed public mask, at least in the early years." --Playbill.com

"Thanks to Magee and Sears as well as to other scholars, Irving Berlin's ever-trenchant Jewish inspiration continues to be revealed as a major aspect of his mighty achievement." --The Forward

"Give[s] lively accounts--more detailed than conventional biographies have managed--of two fascinating moments when Berlin rose above the ranks of his peers: The 1910s, when he was the new pop phenom, and World War II, when he became an actor on the stage of world history in a way that no other American songwriter has." --Los Angeles Times

"Sears collects articles, anecdotes, analyses and reminiscences that build a compelling, if
necessarily incomplete, portrait of Berlin." --Times Literary Supplement

"The Irving Berlin Reader is an excellent resource. It offers detailed yet accessible discussions of Berlin's music alongside insightful passages about his personality. his relationships, and his place in American popular culture. As such, it will be useful to scholars, students, and casual readers alike." --Notes

About the Author

Benjamin Sears is a singer who, with pianist Bradford Conner, specializes in the "Great American Songbook" in particular the songs of Irving Berlin. Sears & Conner have made four CDs of Berlin's music together and lecture regularly on American songwriters and the great performers of their music.

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Product Details

  • Series: Readers on American Musicians
  • Hardcover: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (April 6, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195383745
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195383744
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 0.9 x 6.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,487,015 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have read three previous biographies on Irving Berlin my favorite being "Irving Berlin: A Life in Song" by Philip Furia. This present book called "The Irving Berlin Reader" by Benjamin Sears is not a biography about the great songwriter, but a list of articles written by various individuals some which include Irving Berlin himself. The articles are placed in an order as to when they were written in the career of Irving Berlin. Several of them relate to how certain songs came to be written, the information of which can be found in biographies of Berlin as well. The book also includes letters written to Irving Berlin by those who were involved in his life in addition to lyrics to some of his songs plus photos which are spaced throughout the book.
This 219 page book including the index has a hefty price tag of $35.00. I am a fan of Irving Berlin and his music, and what is in the book is fine, but if I had to do it again I would not have purchased the book. I also have to admit some of the articles were beyond my interest level which may be my fault rather than the writer of the article.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mr. Sears has done a magnificent job of bringing this incredible composer to life by mostly using Berlin's own words, in correspondence and elsewhere. It is a quick and gratifying read for anyone who loves the second greatest cultural contribution of the United States - following closely behind Jazz/Blues - the Broadway Musical.
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