Born: Wednesday, 11 April 1888
Died: Friday, 22 September 1989
Irving Berlin was a prolific songwriter, gifted musician, and dedicated Freemason who inspired the world with his music and charity.
Freemasonry encourages the study of the seven liberal arts and sciences, and as one of the seven, Music is an integral part of Masonry and Freemasonic study. Described as the science of the soul, Music influences on a unique level as listening to music reduces anxiety, blood pressure levels, and pain while engaging both hemispheres of the brain. Thus, the gift of a talented musician is a true present to humanity, and one of the most prolific songwriting musicians of the modern era was Brother Irving Berlin.
Born in the Spring of 1888, Irving Berlin, named Israel Baline, lived his earliest years in a Russian village near Siberia. In order to escape Russian persecution, his family emigrated to the United States in 1893, arriving at Ellis Island and taking up residence on New York City's Lower East Side. Although the family was not wealthy enough to afford a piano or lessons, music was still an important part of young Israel's life through song. As a young man, he developed a strong work ethic, a witty demeanor, a talent for singing, and an ear for music. He began his show business career by performing a street artist – singing around popular cafes and restaurants. When he co-wrote the song "Marie Of Sunny Italy," the song was published. An error by printer resulted in his name being displayed as "Irving Berlin" on the cover - a name he kept professionally for the rest of his life.
Berlin went on to write more than 3000 songs, 19 musicals, and the scores of 18 different movies. Some of his most popular works include the musical "Annie Get Your Gun" and the songs "Blue Skies," White Christmas," "Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better," "There's No Business Like Show Business," "Cheek to Cheek," "Puttin' on the Ritz," "Easter Parade," and "God Bless America." Writing about his craft, he stated:
A fiddler can speak with his fiddle, A singer can speak with his voice, An actor can speak — With his tongue in his cheek, but a songwriter has no choice… Whatever his rights or his wrongs, he can only speak through his songs.
In 1910, Irving Berlin became a Freemason and received the first three degrees of Masonry in Munn Lodge No. 203 in New York City on May 12th, May 26th and June 3rd. Later that year, Brother Berlin received the 32° Scottish Rite on December 23rd. Brother Irving was also a Shriner and was initiated into Mecca Shrine Temple on January 30, 1911. As a Freemason, Brother Irving Berlin donated to many charities and organizations; it is estimated that he was responsible for generating over 100 million dollars for various charitable causes.
At the age of 101, Brother Berlin passed in his sleep to the Eternal Grand Lodge on September 22nd of 1989. His charitable giving and veritable treasure chest of musical works lives on as a testament to his service to Humanity.
“Our attitudes control our lives. Attitudes are a secret power working twenty-four hours a day, for good or bad. It is of paramount importance that we know how to harness and control this great force.” – Brother Irving Berlin
Member of Munn Lodge No. 203 in NYC, NY
Initiated: May 12, 1910
Passed: May 26, 1910
Raised: June 3, 1910
Received 32° Scottish Rite (Northern Jurisdiction): December 23, 1910
Initiated as a Shriner into Mecca Shrine Temple: January 30, 1911
- BROTHER ISAAC NEWTON
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