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Genre: Historical Fiction
Word Count: 100
THE LEADER OF THE BAND
Cossacks torched the shtetl of Tolochin. Flames shot up from Cantor Beilin’s home. Five-year-old Israel choked on the billowing smoke, huddled in a ditch with his brother and sisters. He had never seen Papa weep so.
A ship carried the Beilins to America. In New York’s Lower Eastside, Izzy discovered his talent and at thirteen sang on the streets for thrown pennies.
Music and America. His love for both welled up inside of him and spilled over in the songs he wrote.
Composer Jerome Kern said of Izzy, “Irving Berlin has no place in American music—he is American Music.”
Born in 1888, Irving Berlin lived to be 101. Trying en-capsulize him in 100 words is no easy task. While you might not be familiar with name, I’ll bet you’re familiar with his music. “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” (Scandalous in 1911), “Easter Parade,” “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” “God Bless America,” and that seasonal favorite “White Christmas” to name a few.