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George Gershwin (1898-1937)

George Gershwin, composerOne of the greatest and most original Broadway songwriters, George Gershwin was born in Brooklyn to a poor immigrant family. Young George's love of music came early on and was helped by his friendship with his classmate, violinist Max Rosen. When the Gershwins purchased a piano for his older brother, Ira Gershwin, it was George, then twelve, who monopolized it. At fourteen he began lessons with a key figure in his musical life, Charles Hambitzer, a composer and pianist of broad, advanced musical tastes. From Hambitzer, Gershwin received a thorough classical training, but he was also aware of the native musical upheaval around him (particularly the work of Jerome Kern). Gershwin achieved recognition after Al Jolson sang “Swanee” in the musical Sinbad in 1919. That same year he composed his first full score, for La La Lucille. From 1920 to 1924 he created scores for  George White's Scandals, including such hit songs as “I'll Build a Stairway to Paradise” (1922) and “Somebody Loves Me” (1924). From late 1924 on he worked almost exclusively with his brother Ira. Their first hit was Lady, Be Good! (1924), a show that marked a turning point in American musical comedy; its jazz‐based melodies, harmonies, and rhythms set a new standard and allowed musical comedy to be clearly distinguished from operetta, which retained allegiances to European mannerisms. Gershwin's melodic lines tended to be angular and aggressive, as exemplified by the show's “Fascinating Rhythm” and title song but could on occasion be soft, sentimental, almost wailing, as in “So Am I,” suggesting that his Jewish background as well as black sources influenced his composition. A succession of hits and near misses followed: Tell Me More! (1925),  Tip‐Toes (1925), Song of the Flame (1925),  Oh, Kay! (1926),  Funny Face (1927), Rosalie (1928), Treasure Girl (1928), Show Girl (1929),  Strike Up the Band (1930),  Girl Crazy (1930),  Of Thee I Sing (1931), Pardon My English (1933), and Let 'Em Eat Cake (1933). From early in his career Gershwin had been interested in more serious composition, writing numerous concert pieces, like Rhapsody in Blue and An American in Paris, that remain popular today. Even his political musicals can be seen as a step away from traditional material. In 1935 he attempted a folk opera,  Porgy and Bess. The initial reception was mixed and public response lukewarm, but the musical's popularity has grown with time and may well prove his most durable work.
American Theater Guide

COMPOSITIONS                                                            Gershwin Links     ~ ~ ~     Works by Genre
Since I Found You, song (1913, lost)
Tango, piano (1914, lost)
When You Want 'Em, You Can't Get 'Em; When You've Got 'Em, You Don't Want 'Em, song (1916) [first published song]
The Passing Show of 1916, musical revue (1916)
Rialto Ripples, piano (1917) [a rag in collaboration with Will Donaldson]
You Are Not the Girl, song (1918, lost)
The Real American Folk Song (Is a Rag), song (1918)
Beautiful Bird, song (1918)
Hitchy Koo of 1918 [Gershwin only supplied an additional song to this show]
Kitchenette (Our Little Kitchenette), song (1918)
If You Only Knew, song (1918)
There's Magic in the Air, song (1918) [used in "Half Past Eight"]
When There's a Chance to Dance, song (1918) [used in "Half Past Eight"]
La, La, Lucille, musical comedy (1919) [Gershwin's first Broadway musical]
Sinbad, musical (1919) [Al Jolson included Gershwin's previously composed "Swannee" into this show]
Morris Gest's Midnight Whirl, musical revue (1919) [Gershwin's first musical revue]
Limehouse Nights, musical (1919)
Lullaby, string quartet (1919)
Good Morning, Judge, musical (1919) [Gershwin only supplied additional songs to this show]
The Lady in Red, musical (1919) [Gershwin only supplied additional songs to this show]
Capitol Revue, musical (1919) [Gershwin only supplied additional songs to this show]
Three-Quarter Blues (Irish Waltz), piano (early 1920's)
For No Reason at All, song (1920)
Mischa, Jascha, Toscha, Sascha, song (1920)
Waiting for the Sun to Come Out, song (1920)
Back Home, song (1920, lost)
I Don't Know Why, song (1920, lost)
I Want to Be Wanted by You, song (1920, lost)
We're Pals, song (1920)
Poppyland, musical (1920)
George White's Scandals of 1920, musical revue (1920)
Piccadilly to Broadway, musical revue (1920) [Gershwin only supplied additional songs to this show]
Dere Mabel (1920) [Gershwin only supplied additional songs to this show]
Ed Wynn's Carnival, musical revue (1920) [Gershwin only supplied an additional song to this show]
Broadway Brevities of 1920 [Gershwin only supplied additional songs to this show]
Molly on the Shore, song (c. 1921)
A Dangerous Maid, musical (1921)
The Broadway Whirl, musical (1921) [co-composed with Tierney]
George White's Scandals of 1921, musical revue (1921)
Blue Eyes (1921) [Gershwin only supplied additional songs to this show]
Selwyn's Snapshots of 1921 [Gershwin only supplied additional songs to this show]
The Perfect Fool (1921) [Gershwin only supplied additional songs to this show]
George White's Scandals of 1922, musical revue (1922)
Blue Monday, one-act opera (1922)
For Goodness Sake (1922) [Gershwin only supplied additional songs to this show]
A New Step Ev'ry Day a/k/a Stairway to Paradise, musical (1922)
Our Nell, musical (1922)
By and By, musical (1922)
The French Doll (1922) [Gershwin only supplied an additional song to this show]
A Dangerous Maid, musical (1921) [George's first full score with brother Ira]
Phoebe, song (1921)
Spice of 1922 [Gershwin only supplied an additional song to this show]
Innocent Ingenue Baby, musical (1923) [co-composed with William Daly]
Walking Home with Angeline, musical (1923)
The Rainbow, musical (1923)
George White's Scandals of 1923, musical (1923)
The Dancing Girl (1923) [Gershwin only supplied an additional song to this show]
Little Miss Bluebeard (1923) [Gershwin only supplied an additional song to this show]
Nifties of 1923 [Gershwin only supplied additional songs to this show]
I Won't Say I Will but I Won't Say I Won't (1923)
The Sunshine Trail, musical (1923)
Rhapsody in Blue, piano and jazz band (1924)
Sweet Little Devil, musical (1924)
George White's Scandals of 1924 (1924)
Primrose, musical (1924)
Lady, Be Good!, musical (Fred Astaire Version), Lady Be Good! (Jason Alexander Version) (1924)
Concerto in F, piano and orchestra (1925)
Tell Me More, musical (1925)
Tip-Toes, musical (1925)
Song of the Flame, operetta (1925)
Short Story, violin and piano (1925)
Preludes for Piano (1926)
Swiss Miss, piano (1926) [arrangement of a song from Lady Be Good]
Americana (1926) [Gershwin only supplied an additional song to this show]
Oh, Kay!, musical (1926)
Strike Up the Band, musical (1927)
Funny Face, musical (1927)
An American in Paris, orchestra (1928)
Rosalie, musical (1928)
Merry Andrew, piano (1928) [arrangement of a dance piece from Rosalie]
Treasure Girl, musical (1928)
Show Girl, musical (1929)
Impromptu in Two Keys, piano (1929)
Three-Quarter Blues, piano (1929)
East is West, musical (1929)
9:15 Review (1930) [Gershwin only supplied an additional song to this show]
Girl Crazy, musical (1930)
Strike Up the Band (revision), musical (1930)
Of Thee I Sing, musical (1931)
Delicious, musical film score (1931)
George Gershwin's Song-Book, piano (1932) [arrangements of refrains from Gershwin songs]
Second Rhapsody, piano and orchestra (1932)
Cuban Overture, orchestra (1932)
Girl Crazy, musical (1932)
Pardon My English, musical (1933)
Let 'Em Eat Cake, musical (1933)
Variations on I Got Rhythm, piano and orchestra (1934)
Porgy and Bess, opera (1935)
The Show is On (1936) [Gershwin only supplied an additional song to this show]
Suite from Porgy and Bess, orchestra (1936)
Shall We Dance?, musical film score (1937)
A Damsel in Distress, musical film score (1937)
The Goldwyn Follies, musical film score (1937) [Gershwin died during film; completed by Vernon Duke]
The Shocking Miss Pilgrim, musical film score (1947) [Kay Swift adapted unpublished Gershwin melodies w/Ira Gershwin]
Kiss Me, Stupid, musical film score (1964) [adaptations of unpublished Gershwin songs with lyrics by Ira Gershwin]


WORKS BY GENRE                                                            Gershwin Links     ~ top of page ~
Dramatic/Theater
Blue Monday, one-act opera (1922)
Song of the Flame, operetta (1925)
Porgy and Bess, opera (1935)

Musicals/Musical Revues/Film Musicals
The Passing Show of 1916, musical revue (1916)
La, La, Lucille, musical comedy (1919) [Gershwin's first Broadway musical]
Morris Gest's Midnight Whirl, musical revue (1919) [Gershwin's first musical revue]
Limehouse Nights, musical (1919)
Poppyland, musical (1920)
George White's Scandals of 1920, musical revue (1920)
A Dangerous Maid, musical (1921)
The Broadway Whirl, musical (1921) [co-composed with Tierney]
George White's Scandals of 1921, musical revue (1921)
George White's Scandals of 1922, musical revue (1922)
A New Step Ev'ry Day a/k/a Stairway to Paradise, musical (1922)
Our Nell, musical (1922)
By and By, musical (1922)
A Dangerous Maid, musical (1921) [George's first full score with brother Ira]
Innocent Ingenue Baby, musical (1923) [co-composed with William Daly]
Walking Home with Angeline, musical (1923)
The Rainbow, musical (1923)
George White's Scandals of 1923, musical (1923)
The Sunshine Trail, musical (1923)
Sweet Little Devil, musical (1924)
George White's Scandals of 1924, musical revue (1924)
Primrose, musical (1924)
Lady, Be Good!, musical (Fred Astaire Version), Lady Be Good! (Jason Alexander Version) (1924)
Tell Me More, musical (1925)
Tip-Toes, musical (1925)
Oh, Kay!, musical (1926)
Strike Up the Band, musical (1927)
Funny Face, musical (1927)
Rosalie, musical (1928)
Treasure Girl, musical (1928)
Show Girl, musical (1929)
East is West, musical (1929)
Girl Crazy, musical (1930)
Strike Up the Band (revision), musical (1930)
Of Thee I Sing, musical (1931)
Delicious, musical film score (1931)
Girl Crazy, musical (1932)
Pardon My English, musical (1933)
Let 'Em Eat Cake, musical (1933)
Shall We Dance?, musical film score (1937)
A Damsel in Distress, musical film score (1937)
The Goldwyn Follies, musical film score (1937) [Gershwin died during film; completed by Vernon Duke]
The Shocking Miss Pilgrim, musical film score (1947) [Kay Swift adapted unpublished Gershwin melodies w/Ira Gershwin]
Kiss Me, Stupid, musical film score (1964) [adaptations of unpublished Gershwin songs with lyrics by Ira Gershwin]

Shows Which Gershwin Was a Contributor To
Hitchy Koo of 1918 [Gershwin only supplied an additional song to this show]
Sinbad, musical (1919) [Al Jolson included Gershwin's previously composed "Swannee" into this show]
Good Morning, Judge, musical (1919) [Gershwin only supplied additional songs to this show]
The Lady in Red, musical (1919) [Gershwin only supplied additional songs to this show]
Capitol Revue, musical (1919) [Gershwin only supplied additional songs to this show]
Piccadilly to Broadway, musical revue (1920) [Gershwin only supplied additional songs to this show]
Dere Mabel (1920) [Gershwin only supplied additional songs to this show]
Ed Wynn's Carnival, musical revue (1920) [Gershwin only supplied an additional song to this show]
Broadway Brevities of 1920 [Gershwin only supplied additional songs to this show]
Blue Eyes (1921) [Gershwin only supplied additional songs to this show]
Selwyn's Snapshots of 1921 [Gershwin only supplied additional songs to this show]
The Perfect Fool (1921) [Gershwin only supplied additional songs to this show]
For Goodness Sake (1922) [Gershwin only supplied additional songs to this show]
The French Doll (1922) [Gershwin only supplied an additional song to this show]
Spice of 1922 [Gershwin only supplied an additional song to this show]
The Dancing Girl (1923) [Gershwin only supplied an additional song to this show]
Little Miss Bluebeard (1923) [Gershwin only supplied an additional song to this show]
Nifties of 1923 [Gershwin only supplied additional songs to this show]
Americana (1926) [Gershwin only supplied an additional song to this show]
9:15 Review (1930) [Gershwin only supplied an additional song to this show]
The Show is On (1936) [Gershwin only supplied an additional song to this show]

Orchestra
An American in Paris, orchestra (1928)
Cuban Overture, orchestra (1932)
Suite from Porgy and Bess, orchestra (1936)

Soloist(s) w/Orchestra
Rhapsody in Blue, piano and jazz band (1924)
Concerto in F, piano and orchestra (1925)
Second Rhapsody, piano and orchestra (1932)
Variations on I Got Rhythm, piano and orchestra (1934)

Chamber
Lullaby, string quartet (1919)

Solo Instrument
Short Story, violin and piano (1925)

Piano
Tango, piano (1914, lost)
Rialto Ripples, piano (1917) [a rag in collaboration with Will Donaldson]
 Preludes for Piano (1926)
Swiss Miss, piano (1926) [arrangement of a song from Lady Be Good]
Merry Andrew, piano (1928) [arrangement of a dance piece from Rosalie]
Impromptu in Two Keys, piano (1929)
Three-Quarter Blues (Irish Waltz), piano (1929)
George Gershwin's Song-Book, piano (1932) [arrangements of refrains from Gershwin songs]

Vocal
Since I Found You, song (1913, lost)
When You Want 'Em, You Can't Get 'Em; When You've Got 'Em, You Don't Want 'Em, song (1916) [first published song]
You Are Not the Girl, song (1918, lost)
The Real American Folk Song (Is a Rag), song (1918)
Beautiful Bird, song (1918)
Kitchenette (Our Little Kitchenette), song (1918)
If You Only Knew, song (1918)
There's Magic in the Air, song (1918) [used in "Half Past Eight"]
When There's a Chance to Dance, song (1918) [used in "Half Past Eight"]
For No Reason at All, song (1920)
Mischa, Jascha, Toscha, Sascha, song (1920)
Waiting for the Sun to Come Out, song (1920)
Back Home, song (1920, lost)
I Don't Know Why, song (1920, lost)
I Want to Be Wanted by You, song (1920, lost)
We're Pals, song (1920)
Molly on the Shore, song (c. 1921)
Phoebe, song (1921)


GERSHWIN  LINKS                                                            Works by Genre      ~ top of page ~
George Gershwin: A Life & Times (Mary Ellen Saatzer, Scribd.com)
George Gershwin: An Overnight Musical Sensation (Seymour "Sy" Brody, Florida Atlantic University)
George Gershwin - American Composer, Pianist, Conductor, and Songwriter (Sarah Canice Funke, Suite101.com)
Gershwin: Porgy and Bess - Concert Study Guides (Choral Arts Society)
George Gershwin's Rhapsody of Life (Benjamin Irvy, New York Sun)
Judaic Treasures of the Library of Congress: George Gershwin (Jewish Virtual Library)
Misunderstanding Gershwin (David Schiff, Atlantic Monthly)

Books
George Gershwin: A Bio-Bibliography (Norbert Carnovale, Greenwood Pub., books.google.com)
George Gershwin - A New Biography (William Hyland, Greenwood Pub., books.google.com)
George Gershwin: His Life and Works (Howard Pollack, Univ. California Pr.,books.google.com)

Composer website

Gershwin @ Wikipedia
Gershwin @ About.com
Gershwin @ American Masters
Gershwin @ Answers.com
Gershwin @ ArtsAlive.ca
Gershwin @ Ballet Met Columbus
Gershwin @ BBC
Gershwin @ Biography.com
Gershwin @ Classic Cat
Gershwin @ Classical Archives
Gershwin @ Classical Composers Database
Gershwin @ Classical Music for Families
Gershwin @ Classical Music Pages
Gershwin @ Classical Net
Gershwin @ Classics for Kids
Gershwin @ digitalSymphonix
Gershwin @ Dr. Estrella's Incredibly Abridged Dictionary of Composers
Gershwin @ DSO Kids (Dallas Symphony Orchestra)
Gershwin @ 8notes.com
Gershwin @ fanfaire.com
Gershwin @ Find a Grave
Gershwin @ The George Gershwin House
Gershwin @ George Gershwin Music
Gershwin @ gershwinfan.com
Gershwin @ IMDb (Internet Movie Database)
Gershwin @ Infoplease
Gershwin @ Karadar Classical Music
Gershwin @ The Kennedy Center
Gershwin @ Klassika
Gershwin @ Kunst der Fuge
Gershwin @ Masterworks, A Musical Discovery
Gershwin @ MusicAcademyOnline
Gershwin @ MusicWeb International
Gershwin @ musicianguide.com
Gershwin @ National Portrait Gallery
Gershwin @ NationMaster
Gershwin @ Naxos
Gershwin @ The New York Times
Gershwin @ NNDB
Gershwin @ W.W. Norton
Gershwin @ NPR
Gershwin @ Piano Society
Gershwin @ Record Hall
Gershwin @ Songwriters Hall of Fame
Gershwin @ Spectrum Biographies
Gershwin @ ThinkQuest
Gershwin @ The Timid Soul's Guide to Classical Music [link not working: 4/20/09]
Gershwin @ The Unconservatory
Gershwin @ US Opera [link not working: 4/20/09]
Gershwin @ Virginia Tech Multimedia Music Dictionary
Gershwin @ Voice of America
Gershwin @ Werner Icking Music Archive
Gershwin @ Who2

Streaming Audio
Gershwin @ Al Levy's Music
Gershwin @ The Classical MIDI Connection
Gershwin @ Classical Music Archives
Gershwin @ Classic Cat
Gershwin @ DSO Kids (Dallas Symphony Orchestra)
Gershwin @ The Kennedy Center
Gershwin @ Kunst der Fuge
Gershwin @ last.fm
Gershwin @ W.W. Norton
Gershwin @ NPRmusic
Gershwin @ PRX (Public Radio Exchange)
Gershwin @ Rhapsody
Gershwin @ Voice of America

Recordings
Gershwin @ ArkivMusic
Gershwin @ ClassicsOnline

Gershwin @ YouTube
Gershwin @ Google Video

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