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Transcript of George Gershwin
GERSHWIN Allison Burch Greatest Works Contribution
to Music History An American Legacy Jack of All Trades... Resources Porgy and Bess Rhapsody in Blue Porgy and Bess, 1935 Rhapsody in Blue, 1924 Personal
Background Born September 26, 1898 in Brooklyn, NY
"Headstrong, restless, assertive, dominating, dynamic"
Became fascinated with music, especially jazz and African American rags, blues, and spirituals
At age 14, began studies with Charles Hambitzer, who would remain his mentor
George left school at 15, and became a song plugger for a music publishing firm on Tin Pan Alley
Began working for the Aeolian Company and Standard Music Rolls in NY in 1916, arranging and recording
Wrote his first published song in 1916 Referred to (by Gershwin) as a "folk opera"
Completely black cast was groundbreaking for the time
Based on the novel "Porgy" by DuBose Heyward
At first, the show was a complete failure
It was not accepted as a legitimate opera until 1976, when it was performed by the Houston Grand Opera George died after brain surgery on July 11, 1937 at the age of 38
One of the very first composers to combine classical and jazz styles
This created a distinctly American, recognizable sound that is now associated with Gershwin's work Ewen, David. George Gershwin: His Journey to Greatness.
Westport: Greenwood Press, 1970.
Jablonski, Edward. Gershwin. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1987.
Schwartz, Charles. Gershwin: His Life and Music. London: Abelard-Schuman Limited,
Starr, Larry. George Gershwin. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011.
Unconservatory, "George Gershwin." Accessed January 24, 2013.
http://www.unconservatory.org/celam/gershwinbio.html. His first classical work, for orchestra and piano
It took Gershwin about 3 weeks to complete
Orchestrated by Ferde Grofé
Its form comes from Liszt, slow section from Tchaikovsky, and harmony suggests Debussy or Chopin - a fusion of European elements that create something distinctly American "True music must repeat the thought and inspirations of the people and the time. My people are Americans and my time is today." In the mid-1920s, George went to Paris
Classical musicians refused to teach him, including Maurice Ravel
In his short time there, he wrote "An American in Paris," one of his most famous concert pieces
He returned to the U.S., and was contracted by Fox Film Corporation for a short time in 1929
George's brother, Ira, wrote lyrics for many of his songs, as well as his opera, "Porgy and Bess" Europe & Early Career Childhood to Tin Pan Alley Historical Context Grew up in New York at the height of popular jazz music
Also exposed to classical music studied by his friends
16 years old when World War I began in 1914
Radio broadcasting became popular in the early 1900s - brought music out of concert halls and into homes Wrote numerous works, ranging from orchestral concert music to Broadway musicals
However, never mastered technical piano performance, and often didn't orchestrate his music by himself
Left behind a combination of both popular songs and concert standards that are still performed today