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Irving Berlin's American Musical Theater [Hardcover]

Jeffrey Magee

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Book Description

March 20 2012 Broadway Legacies
From patriotic God Bless America" to wistful "White Christmas," Irving Berlin's songs have long accompanied Americans as they fall in love, go to war, and come home for the holidays. Irving Berlin's American Musical Theater is the first book to fully consider this songwriter's immeasurable influence on the American stage. Award-winning music historian Jeffrey Magee chronicles Berlin's legendary theatrical career, providing a rich background to some of the great composer's most enduring songs, from "There's No Business Like Show Business" to "Puttin' on the Ritz." Magee shows how Berlin's early experience singing for pennies made an impression on the young man, who kept hold of that sensibility throughout his career and transformed it into one of the defining attributes of Broadway shows. Magee also looks at darker aspects of Berlin's life, examining the anti-Semitism that Berlin faced and his struggle with depression. Informative, provocative, and full of colorful details, this book will delight song and theater aficionados alike as well as anyone interested in the story of a man whose life and work expressed so well the American dream."

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"Recommended." --Choice

"Drawing on a vast and previously unexplored gold mine of archival materials, Magee brilliantly shapes fresh perspectives on key shows by Irving Berlin, delivering a text that is simultaneously erudite and accessible." --Carol Oja, William Powell Mason Professor of Music, Harvard University

"An outstanding account of one of the leading composers of the Broadway and Hollywood musical. Magee has an unrivaled command of the sources, and offers important new critical approaches to this music in its theatrical contexts: the benefits are clear in his treatment of Annie Get Your Gun. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in American musical theater of the mid twentieth century." --Tim Carter, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, author of Oklahoma! The Making of an American Musical

"An astonishingly rich book. Everything about it is appealing. The research is prodigious; the cultural analysis fresh and compelling. Like Berlin himself, Magee makes show business come alive, from the first song to the last." --Rose Rosengard Subotnik, Professor of Music Emerita, Brown University

"One of the glories of Magee's book is the sheer abundance of fascinating detail." --Jewish Journal

"[A] very welcome book, the first to focus on the span of Berlin's career in American musical theatre ... Drawing on extensive archival resources, Magee includes both musicological and literary analysis along with the sociological setting with a thoroughness that often enlightens." --Times Literary Supplement

"Thanks to Magee and Sears as well as to other scholars, Irving Berlin's ever-trenchant Jewish inspiration continues to be revealed as a major aspect of his mighty achievement." --The Forward

"A fine addition to an already burgeoning section of a theater lover's bookshelf." --DC Theatre Scene

"Offers a unique perspective on the history of American musical theatre from World War
I to the early 1960s, and presents an immensely valuable portrait of a major creative figure whose pre-World War II shows have proven difficult to insert into the established narratives of pre-Rodgers and Hammerstein musical theatre." --Theatre Journal

"Extremely informative and engaging...Yet another fine example of the high quality material being offered by Oxford University Press's Broadway Legacies Series. Not only does this text offer a fresh analytical look at Irving Berlin's music and his significant role in American musical theater, it is also an important contribution to our understanding of American musical theater history as a whole." --Notes

About the Author

Jeffrey Magee is Associate Professor of Music and Theater at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and author of The Uncrowned King of Swing, winner of the Irving Lowens Award from the Society for American Music.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars There are no songs like Irving's Songs June 21 2012
By wogan - Published on
This is an extremely detailed, but yet interesting book that examines the songs of Irving Berlin. The number of his compositions is amazing and of course includes so many are still standards; 'A Pretty Girl', `God Bless America,' `Alexander's Ragtime Band', `The girl that I Marry". The list could go on and on.

Jeffrey Magee combines elements of Berlin's life with detailed, but a still interesting analysis of Berlin's music. There are fascinating facts, such as why he put `God Bless America' aside for a while. An excellent job is done of describing his values and motivations in writing the songs he did.

There are black and white pictures throughout, facsimiles of his sheet music, tables and lists, an extensive bibliography, a short discography and an index.
The output of Irving Berlin was amazing and this book does an excellent job in examining it and also includes some biographical facts along the way, from his birth and becoming a US citizen and then drafted into the army in 1918. It is a remarkable collection of musical memories.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A new slant on the musical side of Berlin's work Jan. 10 2013
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is extremely informative ,because of the research put into it,via Berlin's papers at the N Y Public library.As a writer and musician,it is interesting to attempt to get into the thought processes of this man
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Irving Berlin, Close Up May 30 2013
By Bill Betts - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
Irving Berlin's American Musical Theater (Broadway Legacies) What a beautiful book! Magee is a fine, a very fine, writer, engaging, unpretentious, careful. His exhaustive research, his obvious love for the songs of Irving Berlin, and his grasp of the history of America's musical theater have produced a most impressive and trustworthy account of one of America's most productive, most accomplished, and most widely loved song writers. Readers of his book? Well, "They Say It's Wonderful."

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