Irving Berlin’s Musical Revolution

December 8, 1914. Crowds pour into the New Amsterdam Theater to see the opening night of a new show, “Watch Your Step.” It’s the first full-length revue written by the popular young songwriter, Irving Berlin. His songs show off Berlin’s signature wit and simplicity, but also his musical sophistication. As his fellow composer, Jerome Kern, would later put it: "Berlin has no place in American music—he is American music.” Who was Irving Berlin? And how did he utterly transform American songwriting?

Thanks to our guests: James Kaplan, author of Irving Berlin: New York Genius; Laurence Maslon, arts professor at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and host of the radio show "Broadway to Main Street" on WLIW; and Katherine Barrett Swett, English teacher, poet, and granddaughter of Irving Berlin and Ellin Mackay.

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