Irving Berlin – 1888-1989
Born Israel Baline in a part of Russia that is now Belarus, Berlin was the son of a Jewish cantor, who immigrated with his family to New York in 1893. Berlin worked as a street singer after his father died in 1896 and wrote his first song in 1907. Despite a lack of formal musical education, Berlin emerged as a leader in the creation of the American popular song and the Broadway musical. He is widely considered the greatest of American popular songwriters.