Irving Berlin – Biography

Irving Berlin was born as Israel Baline on May 11, 1888, to a Russian family in Tyumen. His father was a Russian cantor with Jewish roots. In the mid-1890s, the family resettled in New York, to escape the Jewish prosecution. Still, the boy missed a lot while growing up, which left him with almost no self-confidence.

Irving spent his teen years as a street singer, which gave him a small income. Already in 1906, Irving was hired as a singing waiter, which eventually gave the songwriter entry to the American music world. While he entertained costumers with popular songs of the time, he would add one of his own songs now and then. At his time, a completely written song would provide Irving with $ 25.

Song writing, however, was not enough for the young Irving Berlin. He tried his luck in musicals as well and celebrated his Broadway debut with "Watch Your Step" in 1914.


 (Original song, click on play to listen)


It still was a long way to "White Christmas"

Over the years Irving Berlin earned his living a songwriter for movies of his time. This leads him among others to Germany where he met the film producer Mark Sandrich, who subsequently introduced Irving to Bill Crosby.

When "White Christmas" was created, Irving told his secretary, Helmy Kresa, that this would be the best Christmas song. She was a musician and doubted Irving's statement. However, Bing Crosby, in the 1940s, in the prime of his career, quickly saw the potential of the song.

It is said, at in a moment of self doubt, Irving Berlin asked Crosby if he thinks "White Christmas" would be a hit, Crosby answered: "You do not have to worry about that."


America is entering WWII

With the entry of the USA into the Second World War in 1941 the demand for sentimental ballads grew. "White Christmas" hit the nerve of time like no other song. The time for the premiere is perfect: Bing Crosby dreamed of white Christmas for the first time in his radio show for NBC, on December 25, 1941. The song remains number one for eleven weeks.


Below is the modern version, click play to listen.