George Gershwin


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
Michael Tilson Thomas conducts Gershwin
Release Date: 05/27/2016   Label: Sony  
Catalog: 88875170082   Number of Discs: 7
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Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue; Strike up the Band Overture; Etc / Falletta, Buffalo Philharmonic
Release Date: 06/25/2013   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8559750   Number of Discs: 1
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Gershwin: Rhapsody In Blue/American In Paris
Release Date: 06/30/1992   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8550295   Number of Discs: 1
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Gershwin: Preludes, Songs;  Corea: Children's Songs / Bates
Release Date: 09/04/1992   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8550341   Number of Discs: 1
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Gershwin / Judd, New Zealand
Release Date: 05/21/2002   Label: Naxos  
Catalog: 8559107   Number of Discs: 1
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Work: Rhapsody in Blue


About This Work
George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue for piano and orchestra had been the talk of New York ever since its premiere at Aeolian Hall on February 12, 1924. Gershwin's publisher Harms Inc. (now part of Warner-Chappell) was anxious to capitalize on its Read more success, and at first it brought out Rhapsody in Blue in a 21-part version for theater orchestra arranged by Ferde Grofé. Harms also produced an edition similar in form (if not identical in content) to Gershwin's original manuscript, scored for solo piano with a second piano part that represented a reduction of the orchestral parts. Also, by the end of 1924, Harms had published what it called the "Little Rhapsody in Blue," a suite of the main themes arranged for easy piano by Honora Klarmann. But what was clearly needed was a good solo piano version of the work. However, Gershwin felt that a solo piano version of Rhapsody in Blue would prove unplayable, and the closest he got to creating one himself was in the form of two Aeolian piano rolls of the work made in 1925 and 1927 with the help of Frank Milne, an expert roll editor. In 1927, Harms did finally publish a solo piano version of Rhapsody in Blue created by one of its staff arrangers. As Gershwin had predicted, it was rather difficult to play, but proved hugely successful commercially. It wasn't until 1940, after Gershwin's untimely demise, that Harms' successor company Warner Bros. Music engaged arranger Herman Wasserman to create a simplified solo piano version playable by most mortals, and this is the edition one is most likely to encounter inside the piano benches of students and amateurs. In 1996, Warner-Chappell added yet another chapter to this story by publishing what you might call a "complification" of Rhapsody in Blue edited by pianist Alicia Zizzo. This is a solo piano version that includes every note of music Gershwin wrote down relating to Rhapsody in Blue, including cut material and variant ideas. While this edition has been received only lukewarmly by many within Gershwin's critical camp, it is interesting to see where the composer may have gone with Rhapsody in Blue under different circumstances.

-- Uncle Dave Lewis, All Music Guide Read less

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