George Gershwin
Overview
George Gershwin was an American composer and pianist. Gershwin's compositions spanned both popular and classical genres, and his most popular melodies are widely known. Among his best known works are the orchestral compositions Rhapsody in Blue
Rhapsody in Blue
Rhapsody in Blue is a musical composition by George Gershwin for solo piano and jazz band written in 1924, which combines elements of classical music with jazz-influenced effects....

(1924) and An American in Paris
An American in Paris
An American in Paris is a symphonic tone poem by the American composer George Gershwin, written in 1928. Inspired by the time Gershwin had spent in Paris, it evokes the sights and energy of the French capital in the 1920s. It is one of Gershwin's best-known compositions.Gershwin composed the piece...

(1928), as well as the opera, Porgy and Bess
Porgy and Bess
Porgy and Bess is an opera, first performed in 1935, with music by George Gershwin, libretto by DuBose Heyward, and lyrics by Ira Gershwin and DuBose Heyward. It was based on DuBose Heyward's novel Porgy and subsequent play of the same title, which he co-wrote with his wife Dorothy Heyward...

(1935).

He wrote most of his vocal and theatrical works, including more than a dozen Broadway
Broadway theatre
Broadway theatre, commonly called simply Broadway, refers to theatrical performances presented in one of the 40 professional theatres with 500 or more seats located in the Theatre District centered along Broadway, and in Lincoln Center, in Manhattan in New York City...

 shows, in collaboration with his elder brother, lyricist Ira Gershwin
Ira Gershwin
Ira Gershwin was an American lyricist who collaborated with his younger brother, composer George Gershwin, to create some of the most memorable songs of the 20th century....

.
Encyclopedia
George Gershwin was an American composer and pianist. Gershwin's compositions spanned both popular and classical genres, and his most popular melodies are widely known. Among his best known works are the orchestral compositions Rhapsody in Blue
Rhapsody in Blue
Rhapsody in Blue is a musical composition by George Gershwin for solo piano and jazz band written in 1924, which combines elements of classical music with jazz-influenced effects....

(1924) and An American in Paris
An American in Paris
An American in Paris is a symphonic tone poem by the American composer George Gershwin, written in 1928. Inspired by the time Gershwin had spent in Paris, it evokes the sights and energy of the French capital in the 1920s. It is one of Gershwin's best-known compositions.Gershwin composed the piece...

(1928), as well as the opera, Porgy and Bess
Porgy and Bess
Porgy and Bess is an opera, first performed in 1935, with music by George Gershwin, libretto by DuBose Heyward, and lyrics by Ira Gershwin and DuBose Heyward. It was based on DuBose Heyward's novel Porgy and subsequent play of the same title, which he co-wrote with his wife Dorothy Heyward...

(1935).

He wrote most of his vocal and theatrical works, including more than a dozen Broadway
Broadway theatre
Broadway theatre, commonly called simply Broadway, refers to theatrical performances presented in one of the 40 professional theatres with 500 or more seats located in the Theatre District centered along Broadway, and in Lincoln Center, in Manhattan in New York City...

 shows, in collaboration with his elder brother, lyricist Ira Gershwin
Ira Gershwin
Ira Gershwin was an American lyricist who collaborated with his younger brother, composer George Gershwin, to create some of the most memorable songs of the 20th century....

. George Gershwin composed music for both Broadway and the classical concert hall, as well as popular songs
Popular music
Popular music belongs to any of a number of musical genres "having wide appeal" and is typically distributed to large audiences through the music industry. It stands in contrast to both art music and traditional music, which are typically disseminated academically or orally to smaller, local...

 that brought his work to an even wider public. His compositions have been used in numerous films and on television, and many became jazz standards recorded in numerous variations. Countless singers and musicians have recorded Gershwin songs.

Early life

Gershwin was named Jacob Gershowitz at birth in Brooklyn
Brooklyn
Brooklyn is the most populous of New York City's five boroughs, with nearly 2.6 million residents, and the second-largest in area. Since 1896, Brooklyn has had the same boundaries as Kings County, which is now the most populous county in New York State and the second-most densely populated...

, New York, on September 26, 1898. His parents were Jews from Odessa (Ukraine). His father, Morris (Moishe) Gershowitz, changed his family name to 'Gershvin' some time after immigrating to the United States from St. Petersburg, Russia in the early 1890s. Gershwin's mother Rosa Bruskin had already immigrated from Russia. She met Gershowitz in New York and they married on July 21, 1895. George changed the spelling of the family name to 'Gershwin' after he became a professional musician; other members of his family followed suit.

George Gershwin was the second of four children. He first displayed interest in music at the age of ten, when he was intrigued by what he heard at his friend Maxie Rosenzweig's violin recital. The sound and the way his friend played captured him. His parents had bought a piano for lessons for his older brother Ira
Ira Gershwin
Ira Gershwin was an American lyricist who collaborated with his younger brother, composer George Gershwin, to create some of the most memorable songs of the 20th century....

, but to his parents' surprise and Ira's relief, it was George who played it. Although his younger sister Frances Gershwin
Frances Gershwin
Frances "Frankie" Gershwin , was am American singer.She was born in Manhattan, New York, the younger sister of George, Ira and Arthur Gershwin. She was the first of the Gershwin family to perform as a child, and she brought home a good sum of money for the time.She married Leopold Godowsky, Jr...

 was the first in the family to make money from her musical talents, she married young and devoted herself to being a mother and housewife. She gave up her performing career, but settled into painting for another creative outlet; painting was also a hobby of George Gershwin.

Gershwin tried various piano teachers for two years, and then was introduced to Charles Hambitzer by Jack Miller, the pianist in the Beethoven Symphony Orchestra. Until Hambitzer's death in 1918, he acted as Gershwin's mentor. Hambitzer taught Gershwin conventional piano technique, introduced him to music of the European classical tradition, and encouraged him to attend orchestra concerts. At home, following such concerts, young Gershwin would attempt to reproduce at the piano the music that he had heard. He later studied with classical composer Rubin Goldmark
Rubin Goldmark
Rubin Goldmark was an American composer, pianist, and educator. Although in his time he was an often performed American nationalist composer, his works are seldom played – instead he is known as the teacher of Aaron Copland and George Gershwin...

 and avant-garde composer-theorist Henry Cowell
Henry Cowell
Henry Cowell was an American composer, music theorist, pianist, teacher, publisher, and impresario. His contribution to the world of music was summed up by Virgil Thomson, writing in the early 1950s:...

.

Tin Pan Alley and Stage


At the age of fifteen, George left school and found his first job as a performer, "song plugger" for Jerome H. Remick and Company, a publishing firm on New York City's Tin Pan Alley
Tin Pan Alley
Tin Pan Alley is the name given to the collection of New York City music publishers and songwriters who dominated the popular music of the United States in the late 19th century and early 20th century...

, where he earned $15 a week. His first published song was "When You Want 'Em, You Can't Get 'Em, When You've Got 'Em, You Don't Want 'Em." It was published in 1916 when Gershwin was only 17 years old and earned him $5. His 1917 novelty rag
Ragtime
Ragtime is an original musical genre which enjoyed its peak popularity between 1897 and 1918. Its main characteristic trait is its syncopated, or "ragged," rhythm. It began as dance music in the red-light districts of American cities such as St. Louis and New Orleans years before being published...

 "Rialto Ripples" was a commercial success, and in 1919 he scored his first big national hit with his song "Swanee
Swanee (song)
"Swanee" is an American popular song written in 1919 by George Gershwin, with lyrics by Irving Caesar. It is most often associated with singer Al Jolson....

" with words by Irving Caesar
Irving Caesar
Irving Caesar was an American lyricist and theater composer who wrote lyrics for "Swanee," "Sometimes I'm Happy," "Crazy Rhythm," and "Tea for Two," one of the most frequently recorded tunes ever written. He was born and died in New York.Caesar, the son of Morris Keiser, a Romanian Jew, was...

. In 1916, Gershwin started working for Aeolian Company and Standard Music Rolls in New York, recording and arranging. He produced dozens, if not hundreds, of rolls under his own and assumed names. (Pseudonyms attributed to Gershwin include Fred Murtha and Bert Wynn.) He also recorded rolls of his own compositions for the Duo-Art and Welte-Mignon
Welte-Mignon
M. Welte & Sons, Freiburg and New York was a manufacturer of orchestrions, organs and reproducing pianos, established in Vöhrenbach by Michael Welte in 1832.-Overview:...

 reproducing pianos. As well as recording piano rolls, Gershwin made a brief foray into vaudeville
Vaudeville
Vaudeville was a theatrical genre of variety entertainment in the United States and Canada from the early 1880s until the early 1930s. Each performance was made up of a series of separate, unrelated acts grouped together on a common bill...

, accompanying both Nora Bayes
Nora Bayes
Nora Bayes was a popular American singer, comedienne and actress of the early 20th century.-Early life and career:...

 and Louise Dresser
Louise Dresser
Louise Dresser was an American actress.Born Louise Josephine Kerlin in Evansville, Indiana. Her father was a train conductor who died when she was fifteen years old...

 on the piano.

In the early 1920s Gershwin frequently worked with the lyricist Buddy DeSylva. Together they created the experimental one-act jazz opera Blue Monday
Blue Monday (opera)
Blue Monday was the original name of a one-act "jazz opera" by George Gershwin, renamed 135th Street during a later production. The English libretto was written by Buddy DeSylva...

set in Harlem, which is widely regarded as a forerunner to the groundbreaking Porgy and Bess
Porgy and Bess
Porgy and Bess is an opera, first performed in 1935, with music by George Gershwin, libretto by DuBose Heyward, and lyrics by Ira Gershwin and DuBose Heyward. It was based on DuBose Heyward's novel Porgy and subsequent play of the same title, which he co-wrote with his wife Dorothy Heyward...

.

In 1924, George and Ira Gershwin collaborated on a stage musical comedy Lady Be Good
Lady Be Good (musical)
Lady, Be Good is a musical written by Guy Bolton and Fred Thompson with music by George and lyrics by Ira Gershwin. It was first presented on Broadway in 1924; the West End production followed in 1926...

, which included such future standards as "Fascinating Rhythm
Fascinating Rhythm
"Fascinating Rhythm" is a popular song written by George Gershwin in 1924 with lyrics by Ira Gershwin.It was first introduced by Cliff Edwards, Fred Astaire and Adele Astaire in the Broadway musical Lady Be Good. The Astaires also recorded the song on April 19, 1926 in London with George Gershwin...

" and "Oh, Lady Be Good!
Oh, Lady be Good!
"Oh, Lady be Good!" is a 1924 song by George and Ira Gershwin.The song was introduced by Walter Catlett in the Broadway show, Lady, Be Good!, written by Guy Bolton, Fred Thompson, and the Gershwin brothers, starring Fred Astaire and Adele Astaire. It ran for 330 performances in its original...

".

This was followed by Oh, Kay!
Oh, Kay!
Oh, Kay! is a musical with music by George Gershwin, lyrics by Ira Gershwin, and a book by Guy Bolton and P. G. Wodehouse. It is based on the play La Presidente by Maurice Hanniquin and Pierre Veber. The plot revolves around the adventures of the Duke of Durham and his sister, Lady Kay, English...

(1926); Funny Face
Funny Face (musical)
Funny Face is a 1927 musical composed by George Gershwin, with lyrics by Ira Gershwin, and book by Fred Thompson and Paul Gerard Smith.Originally called Smarty, it starred Fred Astaire and his sister Adele Astaire. It opened in Philadelphia to poor reviews, and amidst major re-writes,...

(1927); Strike Up the Band (1927 and 1930); Gershwin gifted the song with a modified title to UCLA to be used as a football fight song, "Strike Up The Band for UCLA". Show Girl
Show Girl
Show Girl is a musical that ran from Jul 2, 1929 to Oct 5, 1929 with a book by William Anthony McGuire, lyrics by Ira Gershwin and Gus Kahn, and music by George Gershwin. Its heroine, aspiring Broadway showgirl Dixie Dugan, was a character created by J. P...

(1929); Girl Crazy
Girl Crazy
Girl Crazy is a 1930 musical with music by George Gershwin, lyrics by Ira Gershwin and book by Guy Bolton and John McGowan. Ethel Merman made her stage debut in this musical production....

(1930), which introduced the standard "I Got Rhythm
I Got Rhythm
"I Got Rhythm" is a song composed by George Gershwin with lyrics by Ira Gershwin and published in 1930, which became a jazz standard. Its chord progression, known as the "rhythm changes", is the foundation for many other popular jazz tunes such as Charlie Parker's and Dizzy Gillespie's Bebop...

"; and Of Thee I Sing
Of Thee I Sing
Of Thee I Sing is a musical with a score by George Gershwin, lyrics by Ira Gershwin and a book by George S. Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind. The musical lampoons American politics; the story concerns John P. Wintergreen, who runs for President of the United States on the "love" platform...

(1931), the first musical comedy to win a Pulitzer Prize
Pulitzer Prize
The Pulitzer Prize is a U.S. award for achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature and musical composition. It was established by American publisher Joseph Pulitzer and is administered by Columbia University in New York City...

 (for Drama).

Classical music, opera, ballet, and European influences

In 1924, Gershwin composed his first major classical work, Rhapsody in Blue
Rhapsody in Blue
Rhapsody in Blue is a musical composition by George Gershwin for solo piano and jazz band written in 1924, which combines elements of classical music with jazz-influenced effects....

for orchestra and piano. It was orchestrated by Ferde Grofé
Ferde Grofé
Ferde Grofé was a prominent American composer, arranger and pianist. During the 1920s and 1930s, he went by the name Ferdie Grofé.-Early life:...

 and premiered by Paul Whiteman
Paul Whiteman
Paul Samuel Whiteman was an American bandleader and orchestral director.Leader of the most popular dance bands in the United States during the 1920s, Whiteman's recordings were immensely successful, and press notices often referred to him as the "King of Jazz"...

's concert band in New York. It proved to be his most popular work.

Gershwin stayed in Paris for a short period of time during which he applied to study composition with the famous instructor Nadia Boulanger
Nadia Boulanger
Nadia Boulanger was a French composer, conductor and teacher who taught many composers and performers of the 20th century.From a musical family, she achieved early honours as a student at the Paris Conservatoire, but believing that her talent as a composer was inferior to that of her younger...

 who, along with several other prospective tutors such as Maurice Ravel
Maurice Ravel
Joseph-Maurice Ravel was a French composer known especially for his melodies, orchestral and instrumental textures and effects...

, rejected him, being afraid that rigorous classical study would ruin his jazz
Jazz
Jazz is a musical style that originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States. It was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions. From its early development until the present, jazz has incorporated music from 19th and 20th...

-influenced style. While there, Gershwin wrote An American in Paris
An American in Paris
An American in Paris is a symphonic tone poem by the American composer George Gershwin, written in 1928. Inspired by the time Gershwin had spent in Paris, it evokes the sights and energy of the French capital in the 1920s. It is one of Gershwin's best-known compositions.Gershwin composed the piece...

. This work received mixed reviews upon its first performance at Carnegie Hall
Carnegie Hall
Carnegie Hall is a concert venue in Midtown Manhattan in New York City, United States, located at 881 Seventh Avenue, occupying the east stretch of Seventh Avenue between West 56th Street and West 57th Street, two blocks south of Central Park....

 on December 13, 1928, but it quickly became part of the standard repertoire in Europe and the United States. Growing tired of the Parisian musical scene, Gershwin returned to the United States.

In 1929, Gershwin was contracted by Fox Film Corporation to compose the score for the movie Delicious. Only two pieces were used in the final film, the five-minute "Dream Sequence" and the six-minute "Manhattan Rhapsody". Gershwin became infuriated when the rest of the score was rejected by Fox Film Corporation, and it would be seven years before he worked in Hollywood again.

His most ambitious composition was Porgy and Bess
Porgy and Bess
Porgy and Bess is an opera, first performed in 1935, with music by George Gershwin, libretto by DuBose Heyward, and lyrics by Ira Gershwin and DuBose Heyward. It was based on DuBose Heyward's novel Porgy and subsequent play of the same title, which he co-wrote with his wife Dorothy Heyward...

(1935). Gershwin called it a "folk opera," and it is now widely regarded as one of the most important American operas of the twentieth century.
"From the very beginning, it was considered another American classic by the composer of 'Rhapsody in Blue' — even if critics couldn't quite figure out how to evaluate it. Was it opera, or was it simply an ambitious Broadway musical? 'It crossed the barriers,' says theater historian Robert Kimball. 'It wasn't a musical work per se, and it wasn't a drama per se — it elicited response from both music and drama critics. But the work has sort of always been outside category."

Based on the novel Porgy
Porgy
Porgy is a novel written by American author DuBose Heyward in 1925, as well as a play Dorothy Heyward helped him to write which debuted in 1927....

by DuBose Heyward
DuBose Heyward
Edwin DuBose Heyward was a white American author best known for his 1925 novel Porgy. This novel was the basis for the play by the same name and, in turn, the opera Porgy and Bess with music by George Gershwin.-Life and career:Heyward was born in 1885 in Charleston, South Carolina and was a...

, the action takes place in the fictional all-black neighborhood of Catfish Row in Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston is the second largest city in the U.S. state of South Carolina. It was made the county seat of Charleston County in 1901 when Charleston County was founded. The city's original name was Charles Towne in 1670, and it moved to its present location from a location on the west bank of the...

. With the exception of several minor speaking roles, all of the characters are black. The music combines elements of popular music of the day, with a strong influence of Black music, with techniques typical of opera, such as recitative
Recitative
Recitative , also known by its Italian name "recitativo" , is a style of delivery in which a singer is allowed to adopt the rhythms of ordinary speech...

, through-composition and an extensive system of leitmotif
Leitmotif
A leitmotif , sometimes written leit-motif, is a musical term , referring to a recurring theme, associated with a particular person, place, or idea. It is closely related to the musical idea of idée fixe...

s. Porgy and Bess contains some of Gershwin's most sophisticated music, including a fugue
Fugue
In music, a fugue is a compositional technique in two or more voices, built on a subject that is introduced at the beginning in imitation and recurs frequently in the course of the composition....

, a passacaglia
Passacaglia
The passacaglia is a musical form that originated in early seventeenth-century Spain and is still used by contemporary composers. It is usually of a serious character and is often, but not always, based on a bass-ostinato and written in triple metre....

, the use of atonality
Atonality
Atonality in its broadest sense describes music that lacks a tonal center, or key. Atonality in this sense usually describes compositions written from about 1908 to the present day where a hierarchy of pitches focusing on a single, central tone is not used, and the notes of the chromatic scale...

, polytonality
Polytonality
The musical use of more than one key simultaneously is polytonality . Bitonality is the use of only two different keys at the same time...

 and polyrhythm
Polyrhythm
Polyrhythm is the simultaneous sounding of two or more independent rhythms.Polyrhythm in general is a nonspecific term for the simultaneous occurrence of two or more conflicting rhythms, of which cross-rhythm is a specific and definable subset.—Novotney Polyrhythms can be distinguished from...

, and a tone row
Tone row
In music, a tone row or note row , also series and set, refers to a non-repetitive ordering of a set of pitch-classes, typically of the twelve notes in musical set theory of the chromatic scale, though both larger and smaller sets are sometimes found.-History and usage:Tone rows are the basis of...

. Even the "set numbers" (of which "Summertime
Summertime (song)
"Summertime" is an aria composed by George Gershwin for the 1935 opera Porgy and Bess. The lyrics are by DuBose Heyward, the author of the novel Porgy on which the opera was based, although the song is also co-credited to Ira Gershwin by ASCAP....

", "I Got Plenty o' Nuttin'" and "It Ain't Necessarily So
It Ain't Necessarily So
"It Ain't Necessarily So" is a popular song with music by George Gershwin and lyrics by Ira Gershwin. The song comes from the Gershwins' opera Porgy and Bess where it is sung by the character Sportin' Life, a drug dealer, who expresses his doubt about several statements in the Bible.The role of...

" are well known examples) are some of the most refined and ingenious of Gershwin's output. For the performances, Gershwin collaborated with Eva Jessye
Eva Jessye
Eva Jessye was an African American who was the first black woman to receive international distinction as a professional choral conductor. She is notable as a choral conductor during the Harlem Renaissance, who created her own choral group featured widely in performance. Her professional influence...

, whom he picked as the musical director. One of the outstanding musical alumnae of Western University
Western University (Kansas)
Western University was a historically black college established as Quindaro Freedman's School at Quindaro, Kansas after the Civil War. It was the earliest school for African Americans west of the Mississippi River and the only one ever to operate in the state of Kansas...

 in Kansas
Kansas
Kansas is a US state located in the Midwestern United States. It is named after the Kansas River which flows through it, which in turn was named after the Kansa Native American tribe, which inhabited the area. The tribe's name is often said to mean "people of the wind" or "people of the south...

, she had created her own choir in New York and performed widely with them.

After Porgy and Bess
Porgy and Bess
Porgy and Bess is an opera, first performed in 1935, with music by George Gershwin, libretto by DuBose Heyward, and lyrics by Ira Gershwin and DuBose Heyward. It was based on DuBose Heyward's novel Porgy and subsequent play of the same title, which he co-wrote with his wife Dorothy Heyward...

, Gershwin eventually was commissioned by RKO Pictures
RKO Pictures
RKO Pictures is an American film production and distribution company. As RKO Radio Pictures Inc., it was one of the Big Five studios of Hollywood's Golden Age. The business was formed after the Keith-Albee-Orpheum theater chains and Joseph P...

 in 1936 to compose songs and the underscore for Shall We Dance, starring Fred Astaire
Fred Astaire
Fred Astaire was an American film and Broadway stage dancer, choreographer, singer and actor. His stage and subsequent film career spanned a total of 76 years, during which he made 31 musical films. He was named the fifth Greatest Male Star of All Time by the American Film Institute...

 and Ginger Rogers
Ginger Rogers
Ginger Rogers was an American actress, dancer, and singer who appeared in film, and on stage, radio, and television throughout much of the 20th century....

. Gershwin's extended score, which would marry ballet with jazz
Jazz
Jazz is a musical style that originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States. It was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions. From its early development until the present, jazz has incorporated music from 19th and 20th...

 in a new way, runs over an hour in length. It took Gershwin several months to write and orchestrate it.

Hollywood and early death

Early in 1937, Gershwin began to complain of blinding headaches and a recurring impression that he was smelling burned rubber. Doctors discovered he had developed a type of cystic malignant
Malignant
Malignancy is the tendency of a medical condition, especially tumors, to become progressively worse and to potentially result in death. Malignancy in cancers is characterized by anaplasia, invasiveness, and metastasis...

 brain tumor
Brain tumor
A brain tumor is an intracranial solid neoplasm, a tumor within the brain or the central spinal canal.Brain tumors include all tumors inside the cranium or in the central spinal canal...

 known as glioblastoma multiforme
Glioblastoma multiforme
Glioblastoma multiforme is the most common and most aggressive malignant primary brain tumor in humans, involving glial cells and accounting for 52% of all functional tissue brain tumor cases and 20% of all intracranial tumors. Despite being the most prevalent form of primary brain tumor, GBMs...

. Although some tried to trace his disease to a blow on the head from a golf ball, the cause of this type of cancer is still unknown. It occurs most often in males, accounts for 52% of all brain cancers, and is nearly always fatal.

The diagnosis of glioblastoma multiforme has been questioned. The surgeon's description of Gershwin's tumor as a right temporal lobe cyst with a mural nodule is much more consistent with a pilocytic astrocytoma
Pilocytic astrocytoma
Pilocytic astrocytoma or juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma or cystic cerebellar astrocytoma is a neoplasm of the brain that occurs more often in children and young adults...

, a very low grade of brain tumor. Further, Gershwin's initial olfactory hallucination (the unpleasant smell of burning rubber) was in 1934. It is highly unlikely that a glioblastoma multiforme would cause symptoms of that duration prior to causing death. Pilocytic astrocytomas may cause symptoms for twenty or more years prior to diagnosis. Thus, it is possible that Gershwin's prominent chronic gastrointestinal symptoms (which he called his "composer's stomach") were a manifestation of temporal lobe epilepsy
Temporal lobe epilepsy
Temporal lobe epilepsy a.k.a. Psychomotor epilepsy, is a form of focal epilepsy, a chronic neurological condition characterized by recurrent seizures. Over 40 types of epilepsies are known. They fall into two main categories: partial-onset epilepsies and generalized-onset epilepsies...

 caused by his tumor. If this is correct, then Gershwin was not "a notorious hypochondriac," as suggested by his biographer Edward Jablonski
Edward Jablonski
Edward Leon Jabłoński was a Polish soccer midfield player who represented both Cracovia and the Polish National Team. Born on October 13, 1919 in Krakow, Jabłoński was one of the few players who participated in games of the national team both before and after Second World War...

 (who wrote, in a letter to the editor, that "Gershwin was a notorious hypochondriac, beginning as early as 1922, and his complaints were not taken seriously").

In January 1937, Gershwin performed in a special concert of his music with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
San Francisco Symphony
The San Francisco Symphony is an orchestra based in San Francisco, California. Since 1980, the orchestra has performed at the Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall. The San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra and the San Francisco Symphony Chorus are part of the organization...

 under the direction of French maestro Pierre Monteux
Pierre Monteux
Pierre Monteux was an orchestra conductor. Born in Paris, France, Monteux later became an American citizen.-Life and career:Monteux was born in Paris in 1875. His family was descended from Sephardi Jews who came to France in the wake of the Spanish Inquisition. He studied violin from an early age,...

. Gershwin suffered "musical blackouts" during his final performances. It was in Hollywood
Hollywood, Los Angeles, California
Hollywood is a famous district in Los Angeles, California, United States situated west-northwest of downtown Los Angeles. Due to its fame and cultural identity as the historical center of movie studios and movie stars, the word Hollywood is often used as a metonym of American cinema...

, while working on the score of The Goldwyn Follies
The Goldwyn Follies
The Goldwyn Follies is a 1938 Technicolor film written by Ben Hecht, Sid Kuller, Sam Perrin and Arthur Phillips, with music by George Gershwin, Vernon Duke, and Ray Golden, and lyrics by Ira Gershwin. Some sources credit Kurt Weill as one of the composers, but this is apparently incorrect...

, that he collapsed. He died on July 11, 1937 at the age of 38 at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital following surgery for the tumor. John O'Hara
John O'Hara
John Henry O'Hara was an American writer. He initially became known for his short stories and later became a best-selling novelist whose works include Appointment in Samarra and BUtterfield 8. He was particularly known for an uncannily accurate ear for dialogue...

 remarked: "George Gershwin died on July 11, 1937, but I don't have to believe it if I don't want to." A memorial concert was held at the Hollywood Bowl on September 8, 1937 at which Otto Klemperer
Otto Klemperer
Otto Klemperer was a German conductor and composer. He is widely regarded as one of the leading conductors of the 20th century.-Biography:Otto Klemperer was born in Breslau, Silesia Province, then in Germany...

 conducted his own orchestration of the second of Gershwin's Three Piano Preludes.

Gershwin received his sole Academy Award nomination, for Best Original Song
Academy Award for Best Original Song
The Academy Award for Best Original Song is one of the awards given annually to people working in the motion picture industry by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences . It is presented to the songwriters who have composed the best original song written specifically for a film...

, at the 1937 Oscars, for "They Can't Take That Away from Me
They Can't Take That Away from Me
"They Can't Take That Away from Me" is a 1937 song written by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin and introduced by Fred Astaire in the 1937 film Shall We Dance....

" written with his brother Ira for the 1937 film Shall We Dance. The nomination was posthumous; Gershwin died two months after the film's release.

Gershwin had a ten-year affair with composer Kay Swift
Kay Swift
Kay Swift was an American composer of popular and classical music, the first woman to score a complete musical. Written in 1930, Fine and Dandy includes some of her best known songs; the title song has become a jazz standard. "Can't We Be Friends?" was another important hit...

 and frequently consulted her about his music, though the two never married. Kay Swift's granddaughter, Katharine Weber, has suggested that the pair never married because George's mother Rose was "unhappy that Kay Swift wasn't Jewish." Oh, Kay was named for her. After Gershwin died, Swift arranged some of his music, transcribed some of his recordings, and collaborated with his brother Ira on several projects.

Gershwin died intestate
Intestacy
Intestacy is the condition of the estate of a person who dies owning property greater than the sum of their enforceable debts and funeral expenses without having made a valid will or other binding declaration; alternatively where such a will or declaration has been made, but only applies to part of...

. All his property passed to his mother. He is buried in the Westchester Hills Cemetery
Westchester Hills Cemetery
The Westchester Hills Cemetery, approximately 20 miles north of New York City, was established at 400 Saw Mill River Road in Hastings-on-Hudson, Westchester County, New York. It welcomes the burial of Christians and Jews, and many well-known entertainers and performers are interred there...

 in Hastings-on-Hudson
Hastings-on-Hudson, New York
Hastings-on-Hudson is a village in Westchester County, New York, United States. It is located in the southwest part of the town of Greenburgh. As of the 2010 census, it had a population of 7,849. It lies on U.S. Route 9, "Broadway" in Hastings...

, New York. The Gershwin estate continues to collect significant royalties from licensing the copyright
Copyright
Copyright is a legal concept, enacted by most governments, giving the creator of an original work exclusive rights to it, usually for a limited time...

s on Gershwin's work. The estate supported the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act
Copyright Term Extension Act
The Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 extended copyright terms in the United States by 20 years. Since the Copyright Act of 1976, copyright would last for the life of the author plus 50 years, or 75 years for a work of corporate authorship...

 because its 1923 cutoff date was shortly before Gershwin had begun to create his most popular works. The copyrights on all Gershwin's solo works expired at the end of 2007 in the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

, based on the life plus 70 years rule in force in the EU.

In 2005, The Guardian
The Guardian
The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

determined using "estimates of earnings accrued in a composer's lifetime" that George Gershwin was the wealthiest composer of all time.

Legacy and honors

  • The 1945 biographical film
    Biographical film
    A biographical film, or biopic , is a film that dramatizes the life of an actual person or people. They differ from films “based on a true story” or “historical films” in that they attempt to comprehensively tell a person’s life story or at least the most historically important years of their...

     Rhapsody in Blue
    Rhapsody in Blue (film)
    Rhapsody in Blue is a 1945 fictionalized screen biography of the American composer and musician George Gershwin . Starring Robert Alda as Gershwin, the film features a few of Gershwin's acquaintances playing themselves...

     starred Robert Alda
    Robert Alda
    Robert Alda was an American actor. He was the father of actors Alan Alda and Antony Alda.-Life and career:...

     as George Gershwin.
  • George Gershwin was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame
    Long Island Music Hall of Fame
    The Long Island Music Hall of Fame is an organization whose office is located in Port Jefferson, New York. It was incorporated in July 2005 under the New York State Board of Regents as a non profit organization and holds a provisional charter to operate as a museum in the state of New York...

     in 2006.
  • The Gershwin Theatre on Broadway is named after George and Ira.
  • The George and Ira Gershwin Lifetime Musical Achievement Award was established by UCLA
    University of California, Los Angeles
    The University of California, Los Angeles is a public research university located in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, USA. It was founded in 1919 as the "Southern Branch" of the University of California and is the second oldest of the ten campuses...

     to honor the brothers for their contribution to music and for their gift to UCLA of the fight song "Strike Up the Band for UCLA." Past winners have included Angela Lansbury
    Angela Lansbury
    Angela Brigid Lansbury CBE is an English actress and singer in theatre, television and motion pictures, whose career has spanned eight decades and earned her more performance Tony Awards than any other individual , with five wins...

     (1988), Ray Charles
    Ray Charles
    Ray Charles Robinson , known by his shortened stage name Ray Charles, was an American musician. He was a pioneer in the genre of soul music during the 1950s by fusing rhythm and blues, gospel, and blues styles into his early recordings with Atlantic Records...

     (1991), Mel Torme
    Mel Tormé
    Melvin Howard Tormé , nicknamed The Velvet Fog, was an American musician, known for his jazz singing. He was also a jazz composer and arranger, a drummer, an actor in radio, film, and television, and the author of five books...

     (1994), Bernadette Peters
    Bernadette Peters
    Bernadette Peters is an American actress, singer and children's book author from Ozone Park, Queens, New York. Over the course of a career that has spanned five decades, she has starred in musical theatre, films and television, as well as performing in solo concerts and recordings...

     (1995), Frank Sinatra
    Frank Sinatra
    Francis Albert "Frank" Sinatra was an American singer and actor.Beginning his musical career in the swing era with Harry James and Tommy Dorsey, Sinatra became an unprecedentedly successful solo artist in the early to mid-1940s, after being signed to Columbia Records in 1943. Being the idol of the...

     (2000), Stevie Wonder
    Stevie Wonder
    Stevland Hardaway Morris , better known by his stage name Stevie Wonder, is an American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer and activist...

     (2002), k.d. lang
    K.D. Lang
    Kathryn Dawn Lang, OC , known by her stage name k.d. lang, is a Canadian pop and country singer-songwriter and occasional actress...

     (2003), James Taylor
    James Taylor
    James Vernon Taylor is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. A five-time Grammy Award winner, Taylor was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2000....

     (2004), Babyface (2005), Burt Bacharach
    Burt Bacharach
    Burt F. Bacharach is an American pianist, composer and music producer. He is known for his popular hit songs and compositions from the mid-1950s through the 1980s, with lyrics written by Hal David. Many of their hits were produced specifically for, and performed by, Dionne Warwick...

     (2006), Quincy Jones
    Quincy Jones
    Quincy Delightt Jones, Jr. is an American record producer and musician. A conductor, musical arranger, film composer, television producer, and trumpeter. His career spans five decades in the entertainment industry and a record 79 Grammy Award nominations, 27 Grammys, including a Grammy Legend...

     (2007), Lionel Richie
    Lionel Richie
    Lionel Brockman Richie, Jr. , is an American singer-songwriter, musician and record producer. Since 1968, he has been a member of the musical group Commodores signed to Motown Records...

     (2008) and Julie Andrews
    Julie Andrews
    Dame Julia Elizabeth Andrews, DBE is an English film and stage actress, singer, and author. She is the recipient of Golden Globe, Emmy, Grammy, BAFTA, People's Choice Award, Theatre World Award, Screen Actors Guild and Academy Award honors...

     (2009).
  • The Congressional Gold Medal was awarded to George and Ira Gershwin in 1985. Only three other songwriting recipients, George M. Cohan
    George M. Cohan
    George Michael Cohan , known professionally as George M. Cohan, was a major American entertainer, playwright, composer, lyricist, actor, singer, dancer, and producer....

    , Harry Chapin
    Harry Chapin
    Harry Forster Chapin was an American singer-songwriter best known in particular for his folk rock songs including "Taxi", "W*O*L*D", and the number-one hit "Cat's in the Cradle". Chapin was also a dedicated humanitarian who fought to end world hunger; he was a key player in the creation of the...

     and Irving Berlin
    Irving Berlin
    Irving Berlin was an American composer and lyricist of Jewish heritage, widely considered one of the greatest songwriters in American history.His first hit song, "Alexander's Ragtime Band", became world famous...

    , have had the honor of receiving this award.
  • In Brooklyn, George Gershwin Junior High School 166 is named after him.

Musical style and influence

Gershwin was influenced by French composers of the early twentieth century. In turn Maurice Ravel
Maurice Ravel
Joseph-Maurice Ravel was a French composer known especially for his melodies, orchestral and instrumental textures and effects...

 was impressed with Gershwin's abilities, commenting, "Personally I find jazz most interesting: the rhythms, the way the melodies are handled, the melodies themselves. I have heard of George Gershwin's works and I find them intriguing." The orchestration
Orchestration
Orchestration is the study or practice of writing music for an orchestra or of adapting for orchestra music composed for another medium...

s in Gershwin's symphonic works often seem similar to those of Ravel; likewise, Ravel's two piano concertos evince an influence of Gershwin.

Gershwin asked to study with Ravel. When Ravel heard how much Gershwin earned, Ravel replied with words to the effect of, "You should give me lessons." (Some versions of this story feature Igor Stravinsky
Igor Stravinsky
Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky ; 6 April 1971) was a Russian, later naturalized French, and then naturalized American composer, pianist, and conductor....

 rather than Ravel as the composer; however Stravinsky confirmed that he originally heard the story from Ravel.)

Gershwin's own Concerto in F
Concerto in F (Gershwin)
Concerto in F is a composition by George Gershwin for solo piano and orchestra which is closer in form to a traditional concerto than the earlier jazz-influenced Rhapsody in Blue...

was criticized for being related to the work of Claude Debussy
Claude Debussy
Claude-Achille Debussy was a French composer. Along with Maurice Ravel, he was one of the most prominent figures working within the field of impressionist music, though he himself intensely disliked the term when applied to his compositions...

, more so than to the expected jazz style. The comparison did not deter Gershwin from continuing to explore French styles. The title of An American in Paris
An American in Paris
An American in Paris is a symphonic tone poem by the American composer George Gershwin, written in 1928. Inspired by the time Gershwin had spent in Paris, it evokes the sights and energy of the French capital in the 1920s. It is one of Gershwin's best-known compositions.Gershwin composed the piece...

reflects the very journey that he had consciously taken as a composer: "The opening part will be developed in typical French style, in the manner of Debussy and Les Six
Les Six
Les six is a name, inspired by The Five, given in 1920 by critic Henri Collet in an article titled "" to a group of six composers working in Montparnasse whose music is often seen as a reaction against the musical style of Richard Wagner and impressionist music.-Members:Formally, the Groupe des...

, though the tunes are original."

Aside from the French influence, Gershwin was intrigued by the works of Alban Berg
Alban Berg
Alban Maria Johannes Berg was an Austrian composer. He was a member of the Second Viennese School with Arnold Schoenberg and Anton Webern, and produced compositions that combined Mahlerian Romanticism with a personal adaptation of Schoenberg's twelve-tone technique.-Early life:Berg was born in...

, Dmitri Shostakovich
Dmitri Shostakovich
Dmitri Dmitriyevich Shostakovich was a Soviet Russian composer and one of the most celebrated composers of the 20th century....

, Igor Stravinsky
Igor Stravinsky
Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky ; 6 April 1971) was a Russian, later naturalized French, and then naturalized American composer, pianist, and conductor....

, Darius Milhaud
Darius Milhaud
Darius Milhaud was a French composer and teacher. He was a member of Les Six—also known as The Group of Six—and one of the most prolific composers of the 20th century. His compositions are influenced by jazz and make use of polytonality...

, and Arnold Schoenberg
Arnold Schoenberg
Arnold Schoenberg was an Austrian composer, associated with the expressionist movement in German poetry and art, and leader of the Second Viennese School...

. He also asked Schoenberg for composition lessons. Schoenberg refused, saying "I would only make you a bad Schoenberg, and you're such a good Gershwin already." (This quote is similar to one credited to Maurice Ravel
Maurice Ravel
Joseph-Maurice Ravel was a French composer known especially for his melodies, orchestral and instrumental textures and effects...

 during Gershwin's 1928 visit to France – "Why be a second-rate Ravel, when you are a first-rate Gershwin?")

Russian Joseph Schillinger
Joseph Schillinger
Joseph Schillinger was a composer, music theorist, and composition teacher. He was born in Kharkiv, Ukraine and died in New York City.-Life and career:...

's influence as Gershwin's teacher of composition (1932–1936) was substantial in providing him with a method of composition. There has been some disagreement about the nature of Schillinger's influence on Gershwin. After the posthumous success of Porgy and Bess
Porgy and Bess
Porgy and Bess is an opera, first performed in 1935, with music by George Gershwin, libretto by DuBose Heyward, and lyrics by Ira Gershwin and DuBose Heyward. It was based on DuBose Heyward's novel Porgy and subsequent play of the same title, which he co-wrote with his wife Dorothy Heyward...

, Schillinger claimed he had a large and direct influence in overseeing the creation of the opera; Ira completely denied that his brother had any such assistance for this work. A third account of Gershwin's musical relationship with his teacher was written by Gershwin's close friend Vernon Duke
Vernon Duke
Vernon Duke was a Russian-American composer/songwriter, who also wrote under his original name Vladimir Dukelsky. He is best known for "Taking a Chance on Love" with lyrics by Ted Fetter and John Latouche, "I Can't Get Started" with lyrics by Ira Gershwin, "April in Paris" with lyrics by E. Y...

, also a Schillinger student, in an article for the Musical Quarterly
The Musical Quarterly
The Musical Quarterly is the oldest academic journal on music in America. Originally established in 1915 by Oscar Sonneck, the journal was edited by Sonneck until his death in 1928...

in 1947.

What set Gershwin apart was his ability to manipulate forms of music into his own unique voice. He took the jazz he discovered on Tin Pan Alley
Tin Pan Alley
Tin Pan Alley is the name given to the collection of New York City music publishers and songwriters who dominated the popular music of the United States in the late 19th century and early 20th century...

 into the mainstream by splicing its rhythms and tonality with that of the popular songs of his era. Although George Gershwin would seldom make grand statements about his music, he believed that "true music must reflect the thought and aspirations of the people and time. My people are Americans. My time is today."

In 2007, the Library of Congress
Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is the research library of the United States Congress, de facto national library of the United States, and the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. Located in three buildings in Washington, D.C., it is the largest library in the world by shelf space and...

 named their Prize for Popular Song after George and Ira Gershwin. Recognizing the profound and positive effect of popular music on culture, the prize is given annually to a composer or performer whose lifetime contributions exemplify the standard of excellence associated with the Gershwins. On March 1, 2007, the first Gershwin Prize was awarded to Paul Simon
Paul Simon
Paul Frederic Simon is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist.Simon is best known for his success, beginning in 1965, as part of the duo Simon & Garfunkel, with musical partner Art Garfunkel. Simon wrote most of the pair's songs, including three that reached number one on the US singles...

.

Recordings and film

Early in his career Gershwin recorded more than one hundred and forty player piano
Player piano
A player piano is a self-playing piano, containing a pneumatic or electro-mechanical mechanism that operates the piano action via pre-programmed music perforated paper, or in rare instances, metallic rolls. The rise of the player piano grew with the rise of the mass-produced piano for the home in...

 piano rolls both under his own name and pseudonyms, which were a main source of income for him. The majority are popular music of the period and a smaller proportion are of his own works. Once his musical theatre-writing income became substantial his regular roll-recording career became superfluous. He did record additional rolls throughout the 1920s of his main hits for the Aeolian Company's reproducing piano, including a complete version of his Rhapsody in Blue.

Compared to the piano rolls, there are few accessible audio recordings of Gershwin's playing. His first recording was his own Swanee with the Fred Van Eps Trio in 1919. The recorded balance highlights the banjo playing of Van Eps, and the piano is overshadowed. The recording took place before Swanee became famous as an Al Jolson specialty in early 1920.

Gershwin did record an abridged version of Rhapsody in Blue
Rhapsody in Blue
Rhapsody in Blue is a musical composition by George Gershwin for solo piano and jazz band written in 1924, which combines elements of classical music with jazz-influenced effects....

with Paul Whiteman
Paul Whiteman
Paul Samuel Whiteman was an American bandleader and orchestral director.Leader of the most popular dance bands in the United States during the 1920s, Whiteman's recordings were immensely successful, and press notices often referred to him as the "King of Jazz"...

 and his orchestra for the Victor Talking Machine Company
Victor Talking Machine Company
The Victor Talking Machine Company was an American corporation, the leading American producer of phonographs and phonograph records and one of the leading phonograph companies in the world at the time. It was headquartered in Camden, New Jersey....

 in 1924, soon after the world premiere. Gershwin and the same orchestra made an electrical recording of the abridged version for Victor in 1927. However, a dispute in the studio over interpretation angered Paul Whiteman and he left. The conductor's baton was taken over by Victor's staff conductor Nathaniel Shilkret
Nathaniel Shilkret
Nathaniel Shilkret was an American composer, conductor, clarinetist, pianist, business executive, and music director born in New York City, New York to an Austrian immigrant family.-Early career:...

.

Gershwin made a number of solo piano recordings of tunes from his musicals, some including the vocals of Fred and Adele Astaire, as well as his Three Preludes
Three Preludes
Three Preludes are short piano pieces by George Gershwin and were first performed by the composer at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York in 1926. Each prelude is a well known example of early 20th century American classical music, as influenced by jazz....

for piano. In 1929, Gershwin "supervised" the world premiere recording of An American in Paris with Nathaniel Shilkret and the Victor Symphony Orchestra. Gershwin's role in the recording was rather limited, particularly because Shilkret was conducting and had his own ideas about the music. When it was realized that no one had been hired to play the brief celeste
Celesta
The celesta or celeste is a struck idiophone operated by a keyboard. Its appearance is similar to that of an upright piano or of a large wooden music box . The keys are connected to hammers which strike a graduated set of metal plates suspended over wooden resonators...

 solo, Gershwin was asked if he could and would play the instrument, and he agreed. Gershwin can be heard, rather briefly, on the recording during the slow section.

Gershwin appeared on several radio programs, including Rudy Vallee
Rudy Vallée
Rudy Vallée was an American singer, actor, bandleader, and entertainer.-Early life:Born Hubert Prior Vallée in Island Pond, Vermont, the son of Charles Alphonse and Catherine Lynch Vallée...

's, and played some of his compositions. This included the third movement of the Concerto in F with Vallee conducting the studio orchestra. Some of these performances were preserved on transcription discs and have been released on LP and CD.

In 1934, in an effort to earn money to finance his planned folk opera, Gershwin hosted his own radio program titled Music by Gershwin. The show was broadcast on the NBC Blue Network from February to May and again in September through the final show on December 23, 1934. He presented his own work as well as the work of other composers. Recordings from this and other radio broadcasts include his Variations on I Got Rhythm, portions of the Concerto in F, and numerous songs from his musical comedies. He also recorded a run-through of his Second Rhapsody, conducting the orchestra and playing the piano solos. Gershwin recorded excerpts from Porgy and Bess with members of the original cast, conducting the orchestra from the keyboard; he even announced the selections and the names of the performers. In 1935 RCA Victor asked him to supervise recordings of highlights from Porgy and Bess; these were his last recordings.

A 74-second newsreel film clip of Gershwin playing I Got Rhythm has survived, filmed at the opening of the Manhattan Theater (now The Ed Sullivan Theater
Ed Sullivan Theater
The Ed Sullivan Theater, located at 1697-1699 Broadway between West 53rd and West 54th, in Manhattan, is a venerable radio and television studio in New York City...

) in August 1931. There are also silent home movies of Gershwin, some of them shot on Kodachrome
Kodachrome
Kodachrome is the trademarked brand name of a type of color reversal film that was manufactured by Eastman Kodak from 1935 to 2009.-Background:...

 color film stock, which have been featured in tributes to the composer. In addition, there is newsreel footage of Gershwin playing "Mademoiselle from New Rochelle" and "Strike Up the Band
Strike Up the Band (song)
"Strike Up the Band" is a 1927 song composed by George Gershwin, with lyrics by Ira Gershwin. It was written for the 1927 musical Strike Up the Band, where it formed part of a satire on war and militaristic music...

" on the piano during a Broadway rehearsal of the 1930 production of Strike Up the Band. In the mid-30's, "Strike Up The Band
Strike Up The Band
Strike Up the Band may refer to:* Strike Up the Band , a 1927 Broadway musical with music by George and Ira Gershwin* "Strike Up the Band" , a song from the musical...

" was gifted to UCLA to be used as a football fight song, "Strike Up The Band for UCLA". The comedy team of Clark and McCullough
Clark and McCullough
Clark and McCullough were a comedy team consisting of comedians Bobby Clark and Paul McCullough. They starred in a series of short films during the 1920s and 1930s....

 are seen conversing with Gershwin, then singing as he plays.

In 1965, Movietone Records
Movietone Records
Movietone Records was a budget records subsidiary of 20th Century Fox's record division, which issued 29 albums starting in 1965 and ending in 1967. Most or all of these were reissues of albums that had appeared earlier on the 20th Century Fox label...

 released an album MTM 1009 featuring Gershwin's piano rolls of the titled George Gerswhin plays RHAPSODY IN BLUE and his other favorite compositions. The flip side of the LP featured 9 other recordings.

In 1975, Columbia Records
Columbia Records
Columbia Records is an American record label, owned by Japan's Sony Music Entertainment, operating under the Columbia Music Group with Aware Records. It was founded in 1888, evolving from an earlier enterprise, the American Graphophone Company — successor to the Volta Graphophone Company...

 released an album featuring Gershwin's piano rolls of the Rhapsody In Blue, accompanied by the Columbia Jazz Band playing the original jazz-band accompaniment, conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas
Michael Tilson Thomas
Michael Tilson Thomas is an American conductor, pianist and composer. He is currently music director of the San Francisco Symphony, and artistic director of the New World Symphony Orchestra.-Early years:...

. The flip side of the Columbia Masterworks release features Tilson Thomas leading the New York Philharmonic
New York Philharmonic
The New York Philharmonic is a symphony orchestra based in New York City in the United States. It is one of the American orchestras commonly referred to as the "Big Five"...

 in An American In Paris.
In 1976, RCA Records, as part of their "Victrola Americana" line released a collection of Gershwin recordings, taken from 78s recorded in the 1920s and called the LP "Gershwin plays Gershwin, Historic First Recordings" (RCA Victrola AVM1-1740) and included recordings of "Rhapsody in Blue" with the Paul Whiteman Orchestra and Gershwin on piano, "An American in Paris", from 1927 with Gershwin on celesta; "Three Preludes", "Clap Yo' Hands" and Someone to Watch Over Me", among others. There are a total of 10 recordings on the album.

In 1998, two audio CDs featuring piano rolls recorded Gershwin were issued by Nonesuch Records
Nonesuch Records
Nonesuch Records is an American record label, owned by Warner Music Group and distributed by Warner Bros. Records.-Company history:Nonesuch was founded in 1964 by Jac Holzman to produce "fine records at the same price as a trade paperback", which would be half the price of a normal LP...

 through the efforts of Artis Woodhouse. It is entitled Gershwin Plays Gershwin: The Piano Rolls
Gershwin Plays Gershwin: The Piano Rolls
*Produced and engineered by Max Wilcox*November 1992, February and June 1993 at The American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York City-Personnel:*George Gershwin - Piano rolls reproduced on Yamaha Disklavier DCF111S player piano...

.

Countless singers and musicians have recorded Gershwin songs, including Fred Astaire
Fred Astaire
Fred Astaire was an American film and Broadway stage dancer, choreographer, singer and actor. His stage and subsequent film career spanned a total of 76 years, during which he made 31 musical films. He was named the fifth Greatest Male Star of All Time by the American Film Institute...

, Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong , nicknamed Satchmo or Pops, was an American jazz trumpeter and singer from New Orleans, Louisiana....

, Dean Martin
Dean Martin
Dean Martin was an American singer, film actor, television star and comedian. Martin's hit singles included "Memories Are Made of This", "That's Amore", "Everybody Loves Somebody", "You're Nobody till Somebody Loves You", "Sway", "Volare" and "Ain't That a Kick in the Head?"...

, Al Jolson
Al Jolson
Al Jolson was an American singer, comedian and actor. In his heyday, he was dubbed "The World's Greatest Entertainer"....

, Bobby Darin
Bobby Darin
Bobby Darin , born Walden Robert Cassotto, was an American singer, actor and musician.Darin performed in a range of music genres, including pop, rock, jazz, folk and country...

, Percy Grainger
Percy Grainger
George Percy Aldridge Grainger , known as Percy Grainger, was an Australian-born composer, arranger and pianist. In the course of a long and innovative career he played a prominent role in the revival of interest in British folk music in the early years of the 20th century. He also made many...

, Art Tatum
Art Tatum
Arthur "Art" Tatum, Jr. was an American jazz pianist and virtuoso who played with phenomenal facility despite being nearly blind.Tatum is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest jazz pianists of all time...

, Yehudi Menuhin
Yehudi Menuhin
Yehudi Menuhin, Baron Menuhin, OM, KBE was a Russian Jewish American violinist and conductor who spent most of his performing career in the United Kingdom. He was born to Russian Jewish parents in the United States, but became a citizen of Switzerland in 1970, and of the United Kingdom in 1985...

, Bing Crosby
Bing Crosby
Harry Lillis "Bing" Crosby was an American singer and actor. Crosby's trademark bass-baritone voice made him one of the best-selling recording artists of the 20th century, with over half a billion records in circulation....

, The Moody Blues
The Moody Blues
The Moody Blues are an English rock band. Among their innovations was a fusion with classical music, most notably in their 1967 album Days of Future Passed....

, Janis Joplin
Janis Joplin
Janis Lyn Joplin was an American singer, songwriter, painter, dancer and music arranger. She rose to prominence in the late 1960s as the lead singer of Big Brother and the Holding Company and later as a solo artist with her backing groups, The Kozmic Blues Band and The Full Tilt Boogie Band...

, John Coltrane
John Coltrane
John William Coltrane was an American jazz saxophonist and composer. Working in the bebop and hard bop idioms early in his career, Coltrane helped pioneer the use of modes in jazz and later was at the forefront of free jazz...

, Frank Sinatra
Frank Sinatra
Francis Albert "Frank" Sinatra was an American singer and actor.Beginning his musical career in the swing era with Harry James and Tommy Dorsey, Sinatra became an unprecedentedly successful solo artist in the early to mid-1940s, after being signed to Columbia Records in 1943. Being the idol of the...

, Mel Tormé
Mel Tormé
Melvin Howard Tormé , nicknamed The Velvet Fog, was an American musician, known for his jazz singing. He was also a jazz composer and arranger, a drummer, an actor in radio, film, and television, and the author of five books...

, Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday was an American jazz singer and songwriter. Nicknamed "Lady Day" by her friend and musical partner Lester Young, Holiday had a seminal influence on jazz and pop singing...

, Ella Fitzgerald
Ella Fitzgerald
Ella Jane Fitzgerald , also known as the "First Lady of Song" and "Lady Ella," was an American jazz and song vocalist...

, Sam Cooke
Sam Cooke
Samuel Cook, , better known under the stage name Sam Cooke, was an American gospel, R&B, soul, and pop singer, songwriter, and entrepreneur. He is considered to be one of the pioneers and founders of soul music. He is commonly known as the King of Soul for his distinctive vocal abilities and...

, Diana Ross
Diana Ross
Diana Ernestine Earle Ross is an American singer, record producer, and actress. Ross was lead singer of the Motown group The Supremes during the 1960s. After leaving the group in 1970, Ross began a solo career that included successful ventures into film and Broadway...

, Miles Davis
Miles Davis
Miles Dewey Davis III was an American jazz musician, trumpeter, bandleader, and composer. Widely considered one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, Miles Davis was, with his musical groups, at the forefront of several major developments in jazz music, including bebop, cool jazz,...

, Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock
Herbert Jeffrey "Herbie" Hancock is an American pianist, bandleader and composer. As part of Miles Davis's "second great quintet," Hancock helped to redefine the role of a jazz rhythm section and was one of the primary architects of the "post-bop" sound...

, Hiromi Uehara, Madonna
Madonna (entertainer)
Madonna is an American singer-songwriter, actress and entrepreneur. Born in Bay City, Michigan, she moved to New York City in 1977 to pursue a career in modern dance. After performing in the music groups Breakfast Club and Emmy, she released her debut album in 1983...

, Judy Garland
Judy Garland
Judy Garland was an American actress and singer. Through a career that spanned 45 of her 47 years and for her renowned contralto voice, she attained international stardom as an actress in musical and dramatic roles, as a recording artist and on the concert stage...

, Julie Andrews
Julie Andrews
Dame Julia Elizabeth Andrews, DBE is an English film and stage actress, singer, and author. She is the recipient of Golden Globe, Emmy, Grammy, BAFTA, People's Choice Award, Theatre World Award, Screen Actors Guild and Academy Award honors...

, Barbra Streisand
Barbra Streisand
Barbra Joan Streisand is an American singer, actress, film producer and director. She has won two Academy Awards, eight Grammy Awards, four Emmy Awards, a Special Tony Award, an American Film Institute award, a Peabody Award, and is one of the few entertainers who have won an Oscar, Emmy, Grammy,...

, Marni Nixon
Marni Nixon
Marni Nixon is an American soprano and playback singer for featured actresses in movie musicals. She has also spent much of her career performing in concerts with major symphony orchestras around the world and in operas and musicals throughout the United States.-Biography:Born Margaret Nixon...

, Natalie Cole
Natalie Cole
Natalie Maria Cole , is an American singer, songwriter and performer. The daughter of jazz legend Nat King Cole, Cole rode to musical success in the mid-1970s as an R&B artist with the hits "This Will Be ", "Inseparable" and "Our Love"...

, Patti Austin
Patti Austin
-Life and career:Austin was born in Harlem, New York. She made her debut at the Apollo Theater at age four and had a contract with RCA Records when she was only five. Quincy Jones and Dinah Washington have proclaimed themselves as her godparents....

, Nina Simone
Nina Simone
Eunice Kathleen Waymon , better known by her stage name Nina Simone , was an American singer, songwriter, pianist, arranger, and civil rights activist widely associated with jazz music...

, Maureen McGovern
Maureen McGovern
Maureen Therese McGovern is an American singer and Broadway actress, well known for her premier renditions of the Oscar winning songs "The Morning After" from the 1972 film The Poseidon Adventure, and "We May Never Love Like This Again" from The Towering Inferno in 1974.-Early life:McGovern was...

, John Fahey
John Fahey (musician)
John Fahey was an American fingerstyle guitarist and composer who pioneered the steel-string acoustic guitar as a solo instrument. His style has been greatly influential and has been described as the foundation of American Primitivism, a term borrowed from painting and referring mainly to the...

, The Residents
The Residents
The Residents is an American art collective best known for avant-garde music and multimedia works. The first official release under the name of The Residents was in 1972, and the group has since released over sixty albums, numerous music videos and short films, three CD-ROM projects and ten DVDs....

, Kate Bush
Kate Bush
Kate Bush is an English singer-songwriter, musician and record producer. Her eclectic musical style and idiosyncratic vocal style have made her one of the United Kingdom's most successful solo female performers of the past 30 years.In 1978, at the age of 19, Bush topped the UK Singles Chart...

, Sublime
Sublime (band)
Sublime was an American ska punk band from Long Beach, California, formed in 1988. The band's line-up, unchanged until their breakup, consisted of Bradley Nowell , Eric Wilson and Bud Gaugh . Michael "Miguel" Happoldt also contributed on a few Sublime songs, such as "New Thrash." Lou Dog, Nowell's...

, Sting, and Liquid Tension Experiment
Liquid Tension Experiment
Liquid Tension Experiment is an instrumental progressive rock/metal supergroup, founded by Dream Theater's former drummer Mike Portnoy in 1997. The band has released two albums through Magna Carta Records...

.

In October 2009, it was reported by Rolling Stone that Brian Wilson
Brian Wilson
Brian Douglas Wilson is an American musician, best known as the leader and chief songwriter of the group The Beach Boys. Within the band, Wilson played bass and keyboards, also providing part-time lead vocals and, more often, backing vocals, harmonizing in falsetto with the group...

 is completing at least two unfinished compositions by George Gershwin for possible release in 2010. According to Wilson's Facebook page, the album is scheduled to be released on August 17, 2010.

Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin was released on 17th August 2010. The album consists of covers of ten George and Ira Gershwin songs, bookended by passages from Rhapsody in Blue, along with two new songs completed from unfinished Gershwin fragments by Wilson and band member Scott Bennett.

Baseline Studio Systems announced in January 2010 that Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg
Steven Allan Spielberg KBE is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, video game designer, and studio entrepreneur. In a career of more than four decades, Spielberg's films have covered many themes and genres. Spielberg's early science-fiction and adventure films were seen as an...

 may direct a biopic about the composer's life, which is scheduled for release in 2012; 32-year-old American actor Zachary Quinto
Zachary Quinto
Zachary John Quinto is an American actor and producer. Quinto grew up in Pennsylvania and was active in high school musical theater. In the early 2000s he guest starred in television series and appeared in a recurring role in the serial drama 24 from 2003 to 2004...

 has been named for the leading role of George Gershwin.

Compositions

Orchestral
  • Rhapsody in Blue
    Rhapsody in Blue
    Rhapsody in Blue is a musical composition by George Gershwin for solo piano and jazz band written in 1924, which combines elements of classical music with jazz-influenced effects....

    (for piano and orchestra, 1924)
  • Piano Concerto in F
    Concerto in F (Gershwin)
    Concerto in F is a composition by George Gershwin for solo piano and orchestra which is closer in form to a traditional concerto than the earlier jazz-influenced Rhapsody in Blue...

    (1925)
  • An American in Paris
    An American in Paris
    An American in Paris is a symphonic tone poem by the American composer George Gershwin, written in 1928. Inspired by the time Gershwin had spent in Paris, it evokes the sights and energy of the French capital in the 1920s. It is one of Gershwin's best-known compositions.Gershwin composed the piece...

    (for orchestra, 1928)
  • Dream Sequence (for orchestra, 1929)
  • Second Rhapsody
    Second Rhapsody
    Second Rhapsody is a concert piece for orchestra with piano by American composer George Gershwin, written in 1931. It is commonly referred to by its original title, Rhapsody in Rivets....

    , originally titled Rhapsody in Rivets (for piano and orchestra, 1931)
  • Cuban Overture
    Cuban Overture
    Cuban Overture is a symphonic overture or tone poem for orchestra composed by American composer George Gershwin. Originally titled Rumba, it was a result of a two-week holiday which Gershwin took in Havana, Cuba in February 1932...

    (for orchestra, 1932), originally entitled Rumba
  • March from Strike Up the Band
    Strike Up the Band (song)
    "Strike Up the Band" is a 1927 song composed by George Gershwin, with lyrics by Ira Gershwin. It was written for the 1927 musical Strike Up the Band, where it formed part of a satire on war and militaristic music...

    (for orchestra, 1934)
  • Variations on "I Got Rhythm" (for piano and orchestra) (1934)
  • Catfish Row
    Catfish Row
    "Catfish Row", originally titled "Suite from Porgy and Bess", is an orchestral work by George Gershwin based upon music from his famous opera. Gershwin completed the work in 1936 and it premiered at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia on January 21 of that year, with Alexander Smallens conducting...

    (for orchestra, 1936) a suite based on music from Porgy and Bess
  • Shall We Dance (1937 film) a movie score feature-length ballet

Solo Piano
  • Preludes For Piano (1926)
  • George Gershwin's Songbook (1932) (piano arrangements of eighteen songs)

Operas
  • Blue Monday
    Blue Monday (opera)
    Blue Monday was the original name of a one-act "jazz opera" by George Gershwin, renamed 135th Street during a later production. The English libretto was written by Buddy DeSylva...

    , (1922) one-act opera
  • Porgy and Bess
    Porgy and Bess
    Porgy and Bess is an opera, first performed in 1935, with music by George Gershwin, libretto by DuBose Heyward, and lyrics by Ira Gershwin and DuBose Heyward. It was based on DuBose Heyward's novel Porgy and subsequent play of the same title, which he co-wrote with his wife Dorothy Heyward...

    (1935) at the Colonial Theatre in Boston

London Musicals
  • Primrose
    Primrose (musical)
    Primrose is a musical in three acts with a book by Guy Bolton and George Grossmith Jr., lyrics by Desmond Carter and Ira Gershwin, and music by George Gershwin. It centers on a writer whose story-within-a-story forms the basis of the plot. It was written expressly for the London stage, where it...

    (1924)

Broadway Musicals
  • George White's Scandals
    George White's Scandals
    George White's Scandals were a long-running string of Broadway revues produced by George White that ran from 1919–1939, modelled after the Ziegfeld Follies. The "Scandals" launched the careers of many entertainers, including W.C. Fields, the Three Stooges, Ray Bolger, Helen Morgan, Ethel Merman, ...

    (1920–1924) (featuring, at one point, the 1922 one-act opera Blue Monday
    Blue Monday (opera)
    Blue Monday was the original name of a one-act "jazz opera" by George Gershwin, renamed 135th Street during a later production. The English libretto was written by Buddy DeSylva...

    )
  • Lady, Be Good (1924)
  • Tip-Toes
    Tip-Toes
    Tip-Toes is a musical with a book by Guy Bolton and Fred Thompson , lyrics by Ira Gershwin, and music by George Gershwin. It centers on a vaudeville act known as the Three Kayes - composed of Al, Uncle Hen, and Tip-Toes - who try to pass themselves off as aristocrats in the upper class community of...

    (1925)
  • Tell Me More! (1925)
  • Oh, Kay!
    Oh, Kay!
    Oh, Kay! is a musical with music by George Gershwin, lyrics by Ira Gershwin, and a book by Guy Bolton and P. G. Wodehouse. It is based on the play La Presidente by Maurice Hanniquin and Pierre Veber. The plot revolves around the adventures of the Duke of Durham and his sister, Lady Kay, English...

    (1926)
  • Strike Up the Band (1927)
  • Funny Face
    Funny Face (musical)
    Funny Face is a 1927 musical composed by George Gershwin, with lyrics by Ira Gershwin, and book by Fred Thompson and Paul Gerard Smith.Originally called Smarty, it starred Fred Astaire and his sister Adele Astaire. It opened in Philadelphia to poor reviews, and amidst major re-writes,...

    (1927)
  • Rosalie (1928)
  • Show Girl
    Show Girl
    Show Girl is a musical that ran from Jul 2, 1929 to Oct 5, 1929 with a book by William Anthony McGuire, lyrics by Ira Gershwin and Gus Kahn, and music by George Gershwin. Its heroine, aspiring Broadway showgirl Dixie Dugan, was a character created by J. P...

    (1929)
  • Girl Crazy
    Girl Crazy
    Girl Crazy is a 1930 musical with music by George Gershwin, lyrics by Ira Gershwin and book by Guy Bolton and John McGowan. Ethel Merman made her stage debut in this musical production....

    (1930)
  • Of Thee I Sing
    Of Thee I Sing
    Of Thee I Sing is a musical with a score by George Gershwin, lyrics by Ira Gershwin and a book by George S. Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind. The musical lampoons American politics; the story concerns John P. Wintergreen, who runs for President of the United States on the "love" platform...

    (1931)
  • Pardon My English
    Pardon My English
    Pardon My English is a musical with a book by Herbert Fields and Morrie Ryskind, lyrics by Ira Gershwin, and music by George Gershwin. Set in 1933 Dresden, the farcical plot satirizes the Prohibition era.-Production history:Producers Alex A...

    (1933)
  • Let 'Em Eat Cake
    Let 'Em Eat Cake
    Let 'Em Eat Cake is a Broadway musical that opened October 21, 1933 at the Imperial Theatre, New York, USA and ran for 89 performances. It had music by George Gershwin, lyrics by Ira Gershwin, and book by George S. Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind. The cast included William Gaxton, Victor Moore, Philip...

    (1933)
  • My One and Only
    My One and Only
    My One and Only is a musical with a book by Peter Stone and Timothy S. Mayer and music and lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin.Written to incorporate classic Gershwin tunes from Funny Face and other popular shows into one evening of entertainment, the plot, set in 1927 America, revolves around Capt...

    (1983) (an original 1983 musical using previously written Gershwin songs)
  • Crazy for You
    Crazy for You
    Crazy for You is a musical with a book by Ken Ludwig, lyrics by Ira Gershwin, and music by George Gershwin. Billed as "The New Gershwin Musical Comedy", it is largely based on the songwriting team’s 1930 musical, Girl Crazy, but interpolates songs from several other productions as well...

    (1992), a revised version of Girl Crazy
    Girl Crazy
    Girl Crazy is a 1930 musical with music by George Gershwin, lyrics by Ira Gershwin and book by Guy Bolton and John McGowan. Ethel Merman made her stage debut in this musical production....

    , written and compiled without the participation of either George or Ira Gershwin.

Films for which Gershwin wrote original scores
  • Delicious (1931) (an early version of the Second Rhapsody and one other musical sequence was used in this film, the rest were rejected by the studio)
  • Shall We Dance (1937) (original orchestral score by Gershwin, no recordings available in modern stereo, some sections have never been recorded)
  • A Damsel in Distress
    A Damsel in Distress (film)
    A Damsel in Distress is a 1937 English-themed Hollywood musical comedy film starring Fred Astaire, Joan Fontaine, George Burns, and Gracie Allen. With a screenplay by P. G...

    (1937)
  • The Goldwyn Follies
    The Goldwyn Follies
    The Goldwyn Follies is a 1938 Technicolor film written by Ben Hecht, Sid Kuller, Sam Perrin and Arthur Phillips, with music by George Gershwin, Vernon Duke, and Ray Golden, and lyrics by Ira Gershwin. Some sources credit Kurt Weill as one of the composers, but this is apparently incorrect...

    (1938) (posthumously released)
  • The Shocking Miss Pilgrim
    The Shocking Miss Pilgrim
    The Shocking Miss Pilgrim is a 1947 American musical comedy film written and directed by George Seaton, starring Betty Grable and Dick Haymes...

    (1947) (uses songs previously unpublished)

Further reading

  • Carnovale, Norbert. George Gershwin: a Bio-Bibliography (2000. ) Greenwood Press. ISBN 978-0-313-26003-2 ISBN 0-313-26003-6
  • Alpert, Hollis. The Life and Times of Porgy and Bess: The Story of an American Classic (1991). Nick Hern Books. ISBN 1-85459-054-5
  • Feinstein, Michael. Nice Work If You Can Get It: My Life in Rhythm and Rhyme (1995), Hyperion Books. ISBN 0-7868-8220-4
  • Jablonski, Edward. Gershwin Remembered (2003). Amadeus Press. ISBN 0-931340-43-8
  • Rosenberg, Deena Ruth. Fascinating Rhythm: The Collaboration of George and Ira Gershwin (1991). University of Michigan Press ISBN 978-0-472-08469-2
  • Sheed, Wilfred. The House That George Built: With a Little Help from Irving, Cole, and a Crew of About Fifty (2007). Random House. ISBN 0-8129-7018-7
  • Suriano, Gregory R. (Editor). Gershwin in His Time: A Biographical Scrapbook, 1919–1937 (1998). Diane Pub Co. ISBN 0-7567-5660-X
  • Wyatt, Robert and John Andrew Johnson (Editors). The George Gershwin Reader (2004). Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-513019-7

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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