ODN Item of the Week: All by myself

We’ve seen great photographs, documents, and even audio interviews so far, but DPLA is also a resource for something you might not expect – sheet music! Bowling Green University’s library has over 600 titles in their digital collections, and you can browse and search to find the perfect song you need for your upcoming piano recital or to play while you practice your waltz.

BGSU’s collection also includes some compositions from one of America’s greatest and well-known songwriters, Irving Berlin.

Portrait of Irving Berlin

Born Israel Beilin in 1888 in what is now Belarus, Berlin’s large family immigrated to New York City in 1893. He started working as a busker at 13, and published his first song in 1907. It’s said that a printer’s error listed him as ‘Irving Berlin’, and the name stuck. In a career that began before Broadway was born, he scored 19 Broadway shows and 18 motion pictures, and is estimated to have written more than 1200 songs. 25 of them were number one hits.

Not only a composer, Berlin also co-founded the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), founded a music publishing company, and collaborated in building a Broadway theater.

Today’s item is the sheet music for “All by myself”, a song written by Berlin in 1921. Written before his mother’s death, Berlin is thinking about the loneliness of not having someone to lean on and spend the days with.