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Biography

Ben Bernie (May 30, 1891, Bayonne, New Jersey - October 23, 1943), born Bernard Anzelevitz, was an American jazz violinist and radio personality, often introduced as The Old Maestro. He was noted for his showmanship and memorable bits of snappy dialogue.
By the age of 15 he was teaching violin, but this experience apparently diminished his interest in the violin for a time. He returned to music doing vaudeville, appearing with Phil Baker as Baker and Bernie, but he met with little success until 1922 when he joined his first orchestra. Later, he had his own band, "The Lads," seen in the early DeForest Phonofilm sound short, Ben Bernie and All the Lads (1924-1925), featuring pianist Oscar Levant. He toured with Maurice Chevalier and also toured in Europe.
Bernie's orchestra recorded throughout the 1920s and 1930s; Vocalion (1922-1925), Brunswick (1925-1933), Columbia (1933), Decca (1936), and ARC (Vocalion and OKeh) (1939-1940). In 1925 Ben Bernie and his orchestra did the first recording of Sweet Georgia Brown. Bernie was the co-composer of this jazz standard, which became the theme song of the Harlem Globetrotters.

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