Centennial celebrations are mostly done posthumously, but for a beloved New York composer, the centennial came complete with music, memories and the man of the hour. NY1’s Stephanie Simon takes us to composer Bernard Bierman's 100th birthday party.
Composer Bernard Bierman really is everyone’s oldest friend and so for his 100th birthday, friends and fans gathered in Midtown to celebrate his century. Bierman described what it's like to be 100.
“I don't use the cane any more – I use the walker, but tonight I wasn't gonna come up here with a walker – only Johnny Walker,” said Bierman.
Bierman was born in New York in 1908. He graduated from Brooklyn Law School in 1930 and served in the armed forces during World War II. In 1947, he turned his attention to music and Tin Pan Alley. Over the next several years his compositions were performed by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Sara Vaughn, Billy Eckstein and Jimmy Heath, who also played at Bierman’s centennial party.
In 1952, Bernie's father-in-law died, so he retired from music to take over the family business.
But in 1986, Woody Allen's film, “Crimes and Misdemeanors,” revived the song, "Cuban Mambo,” which he helped write and that brought Bernie back to music
He continues to write today and even has a new CD.
“I played much better when I was younger than now, but you notice I still have that swing and I still can play,” said Bierman. “I can sit at that piano and play 100 songs.”
Throughout the evening, musical guests, including KT Sullivan and party organizer Michelle Pirret sang Bierman’s songs. Jaime de Roy sang one of his many parodies.
So what is Bierman’s birthday wish for himself? One hundred birthday kisses – and the way things are going, he should have at least that many.
Who can say "no" to a smooch with a centenarian?
For more information, go to www.berniebierman.com.