George Gershwin

Biography

Born: 1898   Died: 1937   Country: USA   Period: 20th Century
In a career tragically cut short in mid-stride by a brain tumor, George Gershwin (1898-1937) proved himself to be not only one of the great songwriters of his extremely rich era, but also a gifted "serious" composer who bridged the worlds of classical and popular music. The latter is all the more striking, given that, of his contemporaries, Gershwin was the most influenced by such styles as jazz and blues.

Gershwin's first
Read more major hit, interpolated into the show Sinbad in 1919, was "Swanee," sung by Al Jolson. Gershwin wrote both complete scores and songs for such variety shoes as George White's Scandals (whose annual editions thus were able to introduce such songs as "I'll Build a Stairway to Paradise" and "Somebody Loves Me").

After 1924, Gershwin worked primarily with his brother Ira as his lyricist. The two scored a series of Broadway hits in the '20s and early '30s, starting with Lady Be Good (1924), which included the song "Fascinatin' Rhythm." 1924 was also the year Gershwin composed his first classical piece, "Rhapsody in Blue," and he would continue to work in the classical field until his death.

By the '30s, the Gershwins had turned to political topics and satire in response to the onset of the Depression, and their Of Thee I Sing became the first musical to win a Pulitzer Prize. In the mid '30s, Gershwin ambitiously worked to meld his show music and classical leanings in the creation of the folk opera Porgy and Bess, with lyrics by Ira and Dubose Heyward. The Gershwins had moved to Hollywood and were engaged in several movie projects at the time of George Gershwin's death. Read less
Ives: Symphony No 2; Carter: Instances; Gershwin: An American In Paris / Morlot
Release Date: 04/29/2014   Label: Seattle Symphony Orchestra  
Catalog: 1003   Number of Discs: 1
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Hummel, Gershwin, Elgar  /  Karen Geoghegan, Benjamin Wallfisch
Release Date: 06/24/2008   Label: Chandos  
Catalog: 10477   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Preludes (3) for Piano

 

About This Work
For some observers these three short piano pieces represent the apex of Gershwin's "classical" output. The two fast outer pieces, both marked Allegro ben rimato e deciso (fast, rhythmically, and decisively), are each hardly over one minute Read more long, while the middle Prelude is a slow, three-minute blues piece. The Preludes combine the immediate appeal of Gershwin's longer concert pieces with the tight melodic logic and seeming musical inevitability of his songs. Gershwin here uses harmonies and intervals derived from popular music, treating them with a miniaturistic rigor that may even remind the hearer of Bartók. The Preludes evolved mostly between 1923 and 1926, although the theme of the third was based on that of the piano rag Rialto Ripples, one of Gershwin's earliest published compositions. They were originally envisioned as part of a large Bach-like cycle, to be entitled "The Melting Pot"; Gershwin presented five Preludes -- the present three plus two earlier pieces that he had earlier called Novelettes -- at a 1926 recital, but then wisely dropped the two Novelettes when the Preludes were published the following year.

-- All Music Guide Read less

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