Irving Berlin's American Musical Theater

By Jeffrey Magee | Go to book overview

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Writing this book paralleled two key aspects of Berlin’s career: longevity and collaboration. The seeds were planted long before I realized they would grow into a book, when I served as an editor of Charles Hamm’s hefty three-volume edition of Irving Berlin’s early songs. Working on that project was like getting paid for taking a yearlong seminar with a master scholar. I played and studied every bar of words and music, and I learned a lot from two people, the scholar and the songwriter, who thereafter visited my dreams. Without Charles, who passed away while I was correcting proof, this book simply wouldn’t exist.

On the basis of an essay about “Blue Skies,” the series editor Geoffrey Block invited me to write a book about Berlin and the musical theater. I was pleased but also naively skeptical that the subject warranted an entire book. Geoffrey patiently parried my protests, and I relented. Together, Hamm, Block, and Berlin himself made me feel as if this project found me rather than the other way around, and for that, I’m grateful. Geoffrey has remained the book’s champion in the twelve years since our first discussion about it. He has perceptively read chapter drafts, answered many questions, re-read chapters, then read the whole manuscript and delivered copious and deeply informed commentary along the way, all of which reflected the mind of a meticulous and prolific scholar.

Oxford’s Norm Hirschy has been a dream of an editor from proposal to production— offering wise advice and listening, reading, commenting, connecting, encouraging, and reassuring all the way. Thanks (again) to production editor Joellyn Ausanka and copyeditor Mary Sutherland for the care with which they reviewed all aspects of the book and steered it efficiently toward publication. I also appreciate the expertise of the designer, Caroline McDonnell, and the marketing point-person, Samara Stob, for what they did to prepare the book to go out into the world.

I’m grateful to many other scholars, students, teachers, writers, musicians, and friends for substantial support and insights that came in many forms: Alan Anderson, Amy Asch, Katie Baber, Stephen Banfield, Jim Barrett, Amy Beal, Bruce Brown, Tim Carter, Paul Charosh, Richard Crawford, Todd Decker, Rachel Ee, George Ferencz, Philip Furia, Charlotte Greenspan, Larry Hamberlin, Dawn Harris, Eve Harwood, Desiree Hassler, Ellie Hisama, Sheryl Kaskowitz, Ashley Klingler, Cynthia Lauer, Esther Lee, Eric Levin, Beth Levy, Robert McNeily, Carol Oja, Ellen Peck, Jody Rosen, Wayne Shirley, Jeff Taylor, Ann Ommen van der Merwe, Justin Vickers, Chris White, and Stacy Wolf. Thanks, too, to the dynamic duo of Ben Sears and Brad Conner, Berlin experts both, who shared recordings and knowledge. Thanks especially to Todd Decker and Tim Carter for making perceptive comments on parts of the manuscript early on, and to Rose Rosengard Subotnik for a close and empathetic reading of the entire manuscript that led to a cleaner, sharper final product. I’m grateful that Philip Furia, whose books have taught me a lot about how to read and hear Berlin’s songs, also read the entire manuscript and offered valuable suggestions.

Several graduate students at Indiana and Illinois—some now long finished with their degrees, for this book developed on two campuses through two jobs—did valuable legwork in tracking down sources: Dan Batchelder, Kunio Hara, Alison Mero,

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