Plaque designed by Marika Somogyi, galvano by Greco Industries, unique bronze.
Portrait, Irving Berlin (signature), Marika, IN HONOR OF IRVING BERLIN’S 100th BIRTHDAY,
MAY 11, 1988. 232 x 220 mm. No medals made, by request of Irving Berlin.
The son of a cantor, Irving Berlin was born Israel Baline on May 11, 1888 near the Siberian border, in the Russian village of Tyumen. An anti-Semitic pogrom in 1893 persuaded his father to bring the entire family, including eight children, to New York.
In 1924, songwriter Jerome Kern observed “Irving Berlin has no place in American music — he is American music.” Berlin’s songs include America’s unofficial national anthem God Bless America, as well as perennial standards Easter Parade and White Christmas, plus about 1,500 more, for which he wrote both music and lyrics.
Irving Berlin was honored in 1944 by the National Conference of Christians and Jews for “advancing the aims of the conference to eliminate religious and racial conflict.” Five years later, he was honored by the New York YMHA as one of “12 outstanding Americans of the Jewish faith.” And in recognition of the song God Bless America, Mr. Berlin was presented with a special Congressional gold medal in 1954 by President Dwight Eisenhower. Earlier, the composer had assigned the copyright to the God Bless America Fund, which has raised millions of dollars for the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.
Following a gala 100th birthday celebration concert at Carnegie Hall, Morton Gould, president of ASCAP, said that “Irving Berlin’s music will last not for just an hour, not for just a day, not for just a year, but always.” Not bad for a poor immigrant who had only two years of formal schooling and who never learned to read or write music!