Amazing Music Career

Who wrote Alexander’s Rag Time Band and also Easter Parade? Here are some clues. He was born in Siberia. His family were persecuted. With little money,  his parents took him and their seven other children to the USA. Israel Baline was only 5 years of age at the time. His only memory of Siberia was seeing his home being burnt to the ground.

The family carried their few possessions with them. None of them could speak English. Eventually, they reached New York and lived in a tenement without windows. Life in the Big Apple was tough.  Three years later his father died. Israel soon had to leave school to do jobs on the street to earn a few cents.

Yet, he had a different talent. He could sing. As a teenager, he gained jobs as a waiter and sang to the guests. He also made up songs. By this time, his English had improved to the point that he was writing lyrics that caught people’s attention. Music makers in Tin Pan Alley as it was known asked him to write on a regular basis.

Over the next few years he produced one hit song after hit song. Here are just a few – God Bless America – There’s No Business Like Show Business – Always – Blue Skies – White Christmas – Puttin’ On The Ritz and the all time winner  – Alexander’s Ragtime Band.He had many famous musical shows on Broadway, particularly those at the Music Box.

From being down and out poor, he became a multi millionaire.  Having had a poor start in life, he found fame and fortune. Having lived his first five years in Siberia, he lived the next ninety five in the USA and died at the age of 100!!

Who was he? Answer  –  Irving Berlin

Thanks to rkleine  for the flickr photo.


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  1. Thank you for this well written, fascinating, and inspiring website! It really helps me after wake up to something positive.

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