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During the First World War Berlin was drafted into the army and stationed at Camp Upton in Long Island, where he raised $80,000 dollars for the war effort by writing a vaudeville-style show, Yip, Yip, Yaphank. Cannily making the maximum profit possible from his hit songs by being composer, lyricist and publisher in-one, by the early 1920s he was already very wealthy and took possibly the biggest risk of his career, building his own theatre on Broadway, The Music Box. He began to socialise with the likes of Dorothy Parker, Harpo Marx and HG Wells by joining the Round Table Society, and in 1924 met a young woman who was to become his wife, the rebellious heiress Ellin Mackay. From one of the wealthiest families in America, Berlin dedicated his song 'Always' to her. Although her family disapproved of their union and was seen as a traitor to her class, Berlin became embroiled in the Mackay family's misfortune when his father-in-law incurred the biggest losses of any individual during the Wall Street Crash of 1929. After a period of silence after his marriage, he responded to the changed social realities of the times with two satirical musicals in the early 1930s, Face the Music and As Thousands Cheer. Donald Macleod explores this tumultuous time for America and for Irving Berlin.

Release date:

1 hour

Last on

Tue 29 May 2012 18:30

Composers A to Z

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