program notes by composition > I > Irving Berlin Showstoppers

Irving Berlin Showstoppers

Irving Berlin/arr. John Higgins

Irving Berlin Showstoppers is a medley of five familiar melodies by one of America’s most beloved songwriters. Selections include: “Puttin’ On the Ritz”, from the 1929 movie of the same name; “Cheek to Cheek” from the movie “Top Hat” in 1935; “Shaking The Blues Away” and “Steppin’ Out With My Baby” from the movie “Easter Parade in 1948; and “There’s No Business Like Show Business” from the stage production “Annie Get Your Gun” in 1946.

Irving Berlin (1888-1989) was a prolific and famous American composer and songwriter. Born Israel Isidore Baline, the son of a rabbi immigrated from what is now Belarus to New York City at the age of 5. In the classic rags-to-riches story he began as a lyricist and also worked as a busker, singing waiter, vaudevillian and Army sergeant. He was self-taught and never learned how to play or read music beyond a rudimentary level. His special piano mechanically transposed pitches so he could always play on the black keys. He wrote over 3,000 songs and produced 17 film scores and 21 Broadway scores. He was known for writing music and lyrics in the American vernacular: uncomplicated, simple and direct, with his aim being to “reach the heart of the average American.” He became his own publisher and owned a Broadway theater, the Music Box. He died in 1989 at the age of 101.

Last updated on July 17, 2013 by Palatine Concert Band