Irving Berlin — “God Bless America” / A Berlin Medley (Blue Skies, There’s No Business like Show Business)
In 1911, a young Russian-born American composer splashed onto the international stage with “Alexander’s Ragtime Band.” The song was heralded by Variety as “the musical sensation of the decade.” It also spelled overnight fame for its composer, Irving Berlin.
In subsequent years, Berlin would live up to his reputation time and again with new songs that exquisitely captured the spirit of the American times. He did so by combining his singular melodic gift with simple, direct lyrics. “My ambition is to reach the heart of the average American, not the highbrow nor the lowbrow but that vast intermediate crew which is the real soul of the country,” he wrote.
In this concert we will hear several examples of that formula, beginning with the song that would later become his signature: “God Bless America.” Since its premiere in 1938, this song now stands as America’s unofficial second National Anthem.
Program notes provided by Joe Nickell