Composed in honor of Irving Berlin's 100th Birthday, Bernstein mixes a twelve-tone row with a distorted version of two Berlin songs "My Russian Lullaby" - remembered nostalgically from LB's youth - and "Always".
Irving Berlin, I'm sorry.
Irving Berlin, forgive me.
Each night you'll hear me croon this twelve-tone lullaby.
This dreadful little tune.
When baby starts to cry.
(Irving Berlin, forgive me.)
I only want to celebrate you,
without having to imitate you;
and certainly not to irritate you...
Spoken: You see, I did set that rhyme, after all.
So please accept this dodecaphony,
This nasty little waltz,
This plaintive piece of schmaltz,
My twelve tone melody.
(Irving Berlin, I'm sorry.)
Not a simple scale;
Not a major third;
NOT ANOTHER WORD, but ALWAYS.
Publicity photo of Irving Berlin taken by his early music publishing company for promotion.