White Christmas

Accounts vary on where Irving Berlin wrote “White Christmas”. Berlin himself even recall differing circumstances on when it was penned. Some sources claim at was written at the poolside in Aizona Biltmore Resort and Spa in Phoenix. Other accounts state that is was in Beverly Hills, California. In any case, the narration is set in the latter. (1) The original version opens with a verse:

The sun is shining.
The grass is green.
The orange and palm trees sway.
There’s never been such a day
In Beverly Hills, L.A.
But it’s December the twenty-fourth,
And I’m longing to be up north.

This is juxtaposed against the imagery of the traditional white Christmas in the chorus, with imagery of listening treetops and sleigh bells ringing.

Berlin, who couldn’t read and write music had a “musical secretary”, Helmy Kresa,who would transcribe his ideas. Upon the inception of the song, he told his secretary: “Grab your pen and take down this song. I just wrote the best song I’ve ever written — heck, I just wrote the best song that anybody’s ever written!”

(1) Southard, John. “Irving Berlin’s ‘White Christmas’ – Is There An Arizona Biltmore Connection?” John Larsen Southard: historian. 25 December 2013. Accessed 3 April 2016.

(2) “A Musical History.” Universal Music Music Publishing Group: Australia and New Zealand. Accessed 3 April 2016.


By Greg

Australian composer and pianist