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George Gershwin

September 26, 1898 - July 11, 1937
born in Brooklyn, NY, composed during the Modern period
The great musical border crosser of the twentieth century, George Gershwin excelled in the fields of concert music and popular song alike. The son of Jewish immigrants from Russia, he was born Jacob Gershvin in Brooklyn on September 26, 1898. His father ran a great variety of small businesses, and George, in the words of the New Grove Dictionary of Music, "excelled at street sports." He also studied the piano and was introduced to the European classics by his teacher, Charles Hambitzer.

Gershwin immersed himself in popular music after dropping out of school in 1914 and getting a job as a salesman for the music publisher Remick. He was influenced by ragtime and stride piano music, and as a songwriter enjoyed his first hit in 1920 with "Swanee," recorded by the leading vocalist of the time, Al Jolson. Gershwin and his brother Ira became one of the great creative teams in the history of music, each attuned to the considerable subtleties of which the other was capable. Their 1924 musical Lady, Be Good gained wide familiarity thanks to its hit song, "Fascinating Rhythm." Gershwin also wrote works for the concert hall: Rhapsody in Blue (1924), best known in an orchestration by Ferde Grofé; the Piano Concerto in F of 1925; and 1928's An American in Paris have been audience favorites since their respective premieres. Probably Gershwin's most famous work was the uncategorizable Porgy and Bess; "folk opera" was an early attempt at description. Set among African-American residents of Charleston, South Carolina, Porgy and Bess includes the song "Summertime," heavily recorded by both popular and classical artists.

Gershwin continued to write popular songs and musicals; 1930 brought the successful show Girl Crazy and its catchy yet strikingly complex hit number "I Got Rhythm." The 1932 show Of Thee I Sing was especially notable for its crackling political satire. Gershwin went to Hollywood in 1936 to write for the RKO film studio. In mid-1937 he began to complain of headaches, but doctors chalked his symptoms up to stress. In reality he was suffering from a brain tumor; he died on July 11, 1937.

The question of Gershwin's status as a classical composer is a live and productive one. Some observers have pointed out the strong resemblances between his popular and concert idioms, and it is certainly true that for all his studies of the classics over the years, Gershwin rarely wrestled with the problem of large-scale form, which one might regard as classical music's most definitive quest. His concert pieces consist of sequences of great melodies -- perhaps expected in a piece called a "rhapsody" but less impressive for music aspiring to the status of "concerto" or even "tone poem," as An American in Paris was classified. Yet it was not only the American public that loved Gershwin's concert works. They were widely performed in Europe, where they shaped the jazz inflections that began to creep into the music of such composers as Maurice Ravel. Even the proponents of the difficult 12-tone system admired Gershwin's music: Gershwin hobnobbed with Alban Berg in Paris and played tennis with Arnold Schoenberg in Hollywood. "It seems to me beyond doubt that Gershwin was an innovator," Schoenberg wrote, and perhaps history will judge Gershwin as the first harbinger of a new music neither classical nor popular, drawing techniques from many sources and forms of musical knowledge. Who could ask for anything more? ~ Rovi Staff, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Gershwin: Rhapsody In Blue

1. Rhapsody In Blue, For Piano & Orchestra: Rhapsody in Blue, for Piano & Orchestra

2. An American In Paris, Tone Poem For Orchestra: An American in Paris, Tone Poem for Orchestra

3. Oh, Kay!, Musical: Overture

4. Funny Face, Musical: Funny Face Overture

5. Girl Crazy, Musical: Overture

6. Strike Up The Band, Musical (first Version): Overture

7. Of Thee I Sing, Musical: Overture

8. Let 'Em Eat Cake, Musical: Overture

9. Walking The Dog, Promenade For Piano Or Orchestra (arrangement From Film "Shall We Dance"): Promenade

10. Fascinatin' Rhythm, Song (From Lady, Be Good!, Musical): Fascinating Rhythm

x

Track List: Gershwin: Piano Concerto, Rhapsodies, I Got Rhythm Variations / Sheffer, Eos Ensemble

Title: Rhapsody In Blue, For Piano & Orchestra

1. Rhapsody In Blue, For Piano & Orchestra: Rhapsody In Blue

Title: Concerto In F, For Piano & Orchestra

2. Concerto In F, For Piano & Orchestra: I. Allegro

3. Concerto In F, For Piano & Orchestra: II. Adagio

4. Concerto In F, For Piano & Orchestra: III. Allegro Agitato

Title: Second Rhapsody, For Piano & Orchestra ("Rhapsody In Rivets")

5. Second Rhapsody, For Piano & Orchestra ("Rhapsody In Rivets"): Excerpt (Themes)

Title: Variations On "I Got Rhythm" For Piano And Orchestra (or 2 Pianos)

6. Variations On "I Got Rhythm" For Piano And Orchestra (or 2 Pianos): I Got Rhythym Variations

x

Track List: Digital George: A Collection Of Gershwin Classics

x

Track List: Gershwin Performed By The U.S. Army Concert Band

1. Cuban Overture: Cuban Overture

2. Summertime, Song (From Porgy And Bess, Opera): Summertime

3. My Man's Gone Now: My Man's Gone Now

4. Rhapsody In Blue, For Piano & Jazz Band: Rhapsody In Blue

5. Fascinatin' Rhythm, Song (From Lady, Be Good!, Musical): Fascinating Rhythm

6. An American In Paris, Tone Poem For Orchestra: An American in Paris, Tone Poem for Orchestra

x

Track List: Gershwin Weekend

Title: Rhapsody In Blue, For Piano & Orchestra

1. Rhapsody In Blue, For Piano & Orchestra: Rhapsody In Blue

Title: Cuban Overture
Title: Summertime, Song (From Porgy And Bess, Opera)
Title: Concerto In F, For Piano & Orchestra
Title: An American In Paris, Tone Poem For Orchestra
x

Track List: Gershwin Without Words

Title: Girl Crazy, Musical
Title: Lady, Be Good!, Musical
Title: Love Is Here To Stay, Song (from The Goldwyn Follies, Film)
Title: A Foggy Day (in London Town), Song (from A Damsel In Distress, Film)
Title: Funny Face, Musical
Title: Love Walked In, Song (From The The Goldwyn Follies, Film)
Title: Oh, Kay!, Musical
Title: Lady, Be Good!, Musical
Title: Girl Crazy, Musical
Title: Lady, Be Good!, Musical
Title: Girl Crazy, Musical
Title: Of Thee I Sing, Musical
Title: Girl Crazy, Musical
Title: Show Girl, Musical
Title: Girl Crazy, Musical
Title: Porgy And Bess: A Symphonic Picture (arr. Robert Russell Bennett)
Title: Strike Up The Band, Song (from Strike Up The Band; Both Versions)

17. Strike Up The Band, Song (from Strike Up The Band; Both Versions): Strike Up The Band

x

Track List: Gershwin: Piano Cto in F/Rhapsody in Blue in C (Hybr)

Title: Concerto In F, For Piano & Orchestra

1. Concerto In F, For Piano & Orchestra: I. Allegro

2. Concerto In F, For Piano & Orchestra: II. Adagio

3. Concerto In F, For Piano & Orchestra: III. Allegro Agitato

Title: Rhapsody In Blue, For Piano & Orchestra

4. Rhapsody In Blue, For Piano & Orchestra: Rhapsody In Blue

Title: Cuban Overture

5. Cuban Overture: Cuban Overture

x

Track List: Gershwin: Piano Duets

Title: Second Rhapsody, For Piano & Orchestra ("Rhapsody In Rivets")
Title: Variations On "I Got Rhythm" For Piano And Orchestra (or 2 Pianos)
Title: Two Waltzes In C, For Piano
Title: Blue Monday (Opera À La Afro-American), Opera (orig. Incl. In George White's Scandals Of 1922)
Title: Our Love Is Here To Stay, Song (from The Goldwyn Follies, Film)
Title: Embraceable You, Song (From Girl Crazy, Musical)
Title: Rialto Ripples, Rag For Piano
Title: An American In Paris, Tone Poem For Orchestra
x

Track List: Gershwin: Piano Music

Title: Gershwin Song-Book, Song Transcriptions (18) For Piano
Title: Rialto Ripples, Rag For Piano
Title: Preludes (3) For Piano
Title: Impromptu In Two Keys, For Piano
Title: Three-Quarter Blues, For Piano ("Irish Waltz", Melody No. 32)
Title: Merry Andrew, Dance For Piano
Title: Piano Playin' Jazzbo Brown (Jasbo Brown Blues)
Title: Promenade
Title: I'll Build A Stairway To Paradise, Song (from George White's Scandals Of 1922)
Title: How Long Has This Been Going On?, Song (from Rosalie, Musical)
Title: By Strauss, Song (used In Vernon Duke, The Show Is On, Revue)
Title: Someone To Watch Over Me, Song (from Oh, Kay!, Musical)
Title: Nice Work If You Can Get It, Song (from A Damsel In Distress, Film)
Title: The Man I Love, Song (from Strike Up The Band, 1st Version; Orig. Composed For Lady, Be Good!)
Title: Just Another Rhumba, Song (composed For Film The Goldwyn Follies, But Not Used)
Title: Isn't It A Pity?, Song (from Pardon My English, Musical)
Title: They All Laughed, Song (from Shall We Dance?, Film)
Title: Love Is Here To Stay, Song (from The Goldwyn Follies, Film)
x

Track List: Gershwin: Porgy and Bess

Disc 1
Title: Porgy And Bess, Opera
Disc 3
x

Track List: Gershwin: Porgy and Bess; Second Rhapsody; Concerto in F

x

Track List: Gershwin: Rhapsody In Blue - Piano Concerto In F - An American In Paris

Title: Rhapsody In Blue, For Piano

1. Rhapsody In Blue, For Piano: Rhapsody in Blue

Title: An American In Paris, Tone Poem For Orchestra

2. An American In Paris, Tone Poem For Orchestra: Allegretto Grazioso

3. An American In Paris, Tone Poem For Orchestra: Andante Ma Con Ritmo Deciso

Title: Concerto In F, For Piano & Orchestra

4. Concerto In F, For Piano & Orchestra: I. Allegro

5. Concerto In F, For Piano & Orchestra: II. Adagio

6. Concerto In F, For Piano & Orchestra: III. Allegro Agitato

x

Track List: Gershwin: Rhapsody In Blue; Concerto In F; An American In Paris

Title: Rhapsody In Blue, For Piano & Orchestra

1. Rhapsody In Blue, For Piano & Orchestra: Rhapsody in Blue, for Piano & Orchestra

Title: An American In Paris, Tone Poem For Orchestra

2. An American In Paris, Tone Poem For Orchestra: An American in Paris, Tone Poem for Orchestra

Title: Concerto In F, For Piano & Orchestra

3. Concerto In F, For Piano & Orchestra: I. Allegro

4. Concerto In F, For Piano & Orchestra: II. Adagio

5. Concerto In F, For Piano & Orchestra: III. Allegro Agitato

x

Track List: Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue; Piano Concerto; Song-Book (Complete)

Title: Rhapsody In Blue, For Piano & Orchestra
Title: Gershwin Song-Book, Song Transcriptions (18) For Piano
Title: Concerto In F, For Piano & Orchestra
x

Track List: Rhapsody In Blue (Single)

1. Rhapsody In Blue, For Piano & Orchestra: Rhapsody in Blue, for Piano & Orchestra

Comments

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When I was 19, in the first blush of love for NYC, I'd put Gershwin on on a rainy day and climb out my window (5th floor walk up tenement on the lower east side) sit on my fire escape and rhapsodize. I felt like he'd written his music just for me. If that isn't the hallmark of a great, I don't know what is...
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Nicole, people like you give me hope that humanity isn't going down the drain. Same here.

Gershwin is a legend in my book. I hope I'll be able to read and play his music someday.
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He was just getting started. Imagine. jerry
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Love it in all variations
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Can you imagine just what fantastic ,true,Classi c a l works would have come from this great musician if he had not been cut down in his prime by a brain tumor?-The world lost so much GREAT music when he sadly died so young. Thank you so very much Mr Gershwin!( and Ira of course!!)
JohnH
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Absolutely beautiful!
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@lidia987... g r e a t observation!
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I am 10 years old and think pop music sucks and classical us DA BEST.
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����
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jeffjerusha
Love it! Not enough Clarinet solo! Reminds me of the city streets.
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One of the world's greatest timeless pieces.
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I learned about him yrs of watching earlier Bugs Bunny cartoons. Lol!
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steveburns29 3
R I B. Ultimately music
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"Rhapsody in Blue" by Gershwin, is what launched my love for classical music. <3
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mjr1937
IRA GERSHWIN IS NOTON THIS SITE
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Albert Einstein and George Gershwin are in the same catagory, INTELLIGENT.
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smittyiam
A true modern day composer of great talent. I silently cry whenever I hear this. Absoloutly beautiful
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chulsmann428
Its beauty brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it...thank you.
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one of the absolute best, thank you for following your passion Mr. Gershwin :))
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graphmark
The word that always comes to mind is Brilliance.
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Gershwin was pure genius
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Love Gershwin
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I thank you posthumously Mr. Gershwin for sharing your wonderful God given talents with the world. I am 79 years old and when as a very young child my very big brother played your Rhapsody in Blue album I became enchanted. It was a different movie each time I listened to it. Who needed TV? Your music gave me the understandin g that music can be anything you want it to be whether classical, jazz, R&B etc. Thanks again, Mr.Gershwin. I wish I had met you.

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Every time I hear this I picture the animation sequence on Fantasia 2000. But I've loved it long before and since... Makes me wish I'd stuck with those piano classes 30 years ago. :)
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Mmmmm,,,this rendition is great!
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Music greatly loved and appreciated" : )
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What a great story, to bad hi dyed so Yong. My father was a popular musician in El Salvador. Dyed at 89. God bless them.
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unclei3
fun, exciting, happy, everlasting, who could ask for anything more, how about summertime
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:-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-)
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Genius. Pure, once-in-a-li f e t i m e genius. MAN I wish I could play Rapsody in Blue<3<3<3<3
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i heard this on fantasia! fantastique
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George Gershwin's music is timeless, a true genius and his music will forever be enjoyed!
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George Gershwin is great!
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The first time I heard Rhapsody in Blue was when I watched Fantasia and I feel in the love with it. It's a fun piece!
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His songs are written in my key:F; talk about singing in good company
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My piano teacher introduced me to Gershwin's music when I was 10. It changed my life and my connection to orchestal music! Can still play "the Man I Love" 50 years later. He's simply the best!!
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Real music
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Its so much better than pop music today lol
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blue_oasisbt d 6 1 6 1
I love how his music was so revolutionar y for that time period & how it has great connection to the African American culture & the Harlem Renaissance
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I wish I could play this well.
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He dropped out of school at 16. True genius doesn't need the regimen of school it needs the freedom to breathe, to explore itself, and to grow, Only then will it gift us it's breathtaking beauty as this man did.
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gershonweiss m a n
Hearing this I can close my eyes and see all of Manhattan with the bustling movement, contemplativ e moments at night in a great restaurant, then on to a jazz club, then with the syncopation, confusion, but with people here and there and then an inspiring uplifting flourish...w h o could ask for anything more. What a joy! I enjoy it over and over again played by the great master pianists and even in the smaller venues.
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This is such an amazing man! His music is beautiful! ♥♥
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#fantasia
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Wow just wow
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My favorite song of all time. It just sounds like America. A true Masterpiece!
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Just love Gershwin's Music!!
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In that photograph he kinda looks like Jim Moriarty...
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Oh my Gersh this is a great composer. Gotta love these puns though...
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Rhapsody in Blue is one of the best songs that has ever been performed. It not only rivals classical artists, it is a step ahead of them. I think that bossa nova music is Brazil's equivalent to Gershwin's music. Both are beautiful.
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