Once in New York, he changed his first name to Morris. Gershowitz lived with a maternal uncle in Brooklyn, working as a foreman in a women's shoe factory. His birth certificate identifies him as Jacob Gershwin, with the surname pronounced 'Gersh-vin' in the Russian and Yiddish immigrant community.
He had just one given name, contrary to the American practice of giving children both a first and a middle name. He was named after his grandfather, the army mechanic. He soon became known as George, and changed the spelling of his surname to 'Gershwin' around the time he became a professional musician; other family members followed suit.
The family lived in many different residences, as their father changed dwellings with each new enterprise in which he became involved. They grew up mostly in the Yiddish Theater District.
George and Ira frequented the local Yiddish theaters, with George occasionally appearing onstage as an extra. George lived a boyhood not unusual in New York tenements, which included running around with his friends, roller-skating and misbehaving in the streets. Untilhe cared nothing about music. Then as a ten-year-old, he was intrigued upon Three - George Gershwin - 1898-1937 (CD) his friend Maxie Rosenzweig's violin recital. At about the same time, George's parents had bought a piano for his older brother Ira.
To his parents' surprise, though, and to Ira's relief, it was George who spent more time playing it as he continued to enjoy it. Although his younger sister Frances was the first in the family to make a living through her musical talents, she married young and devoted herself to being a mother and housewife, thus precluding spending any serious time on musical endeavors.
Having given up her performing career, she settled upon painting as a creative outlet, which had also been a hobby George briefly pursued. Arthur Gershwin followed in the paths of George and Ira, also becoming a composer of songs, musicals, and short piano works.
With a degree of frustration, George tried various piano teachers for about two years circa before finally being introduced to Charles Hambitzer by Jack Miller circathe pianist in the Beethoven Symphony Orchestra.
Until his death inHambitzer remained Gershwin's musical mentor, taught him conventional piano technique, introduced him to music of the European classical tradition, and encouraged him to attend orchestral concerts. InGershwin left school at the age of 15 and found his first job as a " song plugger ".
His employer was Jerome H. It earned him 50 cents. He produced dozens, if not hundreds, of rolls under his own and assumed names pseudonyms attributed to Gershwin include Fred Murtha and Bert Wynn. He also recorded rolls of his own compositions for the Duo-Art and Welte-Mignon reproducing pianos.
As well as recording piano rolls, Gershwin made a brief foray into vaudevilleaccompanying both Nora Bayes and Louise Dresser on the piano. In he scored his first big national hit with his song " Swanee ," with words by Irving Caesar.
Al Jolsona famous Broadway singer of the day, heard Gershwin perform "Swanee" at a party and decided to sing it in one of his shows. In the late s, Gershwin met songwriter and music director William Daly. The two collaborated on the Broadway musicals Piccadilly to Broadway and For Goodness' Sakeand jointly composed the score for Our Nell This was the beginning of a long friendship.
Daly was a frequent arranger, orchestrator and conductor of Gershwin's music, and Gershwin periodically turned to him for musical advice. InGershwin composed his first major classical work, Rhapsody in Bluefor orchestra and piano. It subsequently went on to be his most popular work, and established Gershwin's signature style and genius in blending vastly different musical styles in revolutionary ways.
Since the early s Gershwin had frequently worked with the lyricist Buddy DeSylva. Together they created the experimental one-act jazz opera Blue Mondayset in Harlem. It is widely regarded as a forerunner to the groundbreaking Porgy and Bess.
In the mids, Gershwin stayed in Paris for a short period of time, during which he applied to study composition with the noted Nadia Boulangerwho, along with several other prospective tutors such as Maurice Ravelturned him down, afraid that rigorous classical study would ruin his jazz -influenced style. This work received mixed reviews upon its first performance at Carnegie Hall on December 13,but it quickly became part of the standard repertoire in Europe and the United States.
Kaufman, Morrie Ryskind, and Ira Gershwin. He was inspired to write the music to his opera Porgy and Bess while on this working vacation.
But the work has sort of always been outside category. Gershwin's extended score, which would marry ballet with jazz in a new way, runs over an hour in length. It One Gershwin several months to compose and orchestrate. Gershwin had a ten-year affair with composer Kay Swiftwhom he frequently consulted about his music.
The two never married, although she eventually divorced her husband James Warburg in order to commit to the relationship. Swift's granddaughter, Katharine Weber, has suggested that the pair were not married because George's mother Rose was "unhappy that Kay Swift wasn't Jewish". Early inGershwin began to complain of blinding headaches and a recurring impression that he smelled burning rubber.
He was at the time working on other Hollywood film projects while living with Ira and his wife Three - George Gershwin - 1898-1937 (CD) in their rented house in Beverly Hills. Leonore Gershwin began to be disturbed by George's mood swings and his seeming inability to eat without spilling food at the dinner table. She suspected mental illness and insisted he be moved out of their house to lyricist Yip Harburg's empty quarters nearby, where he was placed in the care of his valet, Paul Mueller.
The headaches and olfactory hallucinations continued. On the night of July 9, Gershwin collapsed in Harburg's house, where he had been working on the score of The Goldwyn Follies. He was rushed back to Cedars of Lebanon,  and fell into a coma.
Only then did his doctors come to believe that he was suffering from a brain tumor. Leonore called George's close friend Emil Mosbacher and explained the dire need to find a neurosurgeon.
Mosbacher immediately called pioneering neurosurgeon Harvey Cushing in Boston, who, retired for several years by then, recommended Dr. Walter Dandywho was on a boat fishing in Chesapeake Bay with the governor of Maryland.
Mosbacher called the White House and had a Coast Guard cutter sent to find the governor's yacht and bring Dandy quickly to shore. Gershwin's friends and fans were shocked and devastated. A memorial concert was held at the Hollywood Bowl on September 8,at which Otto Klemperer conducted his own orchestration of the second of Gershwin's Three Preludes. Gershwin was influenced by French composers of the early twentieth century. In turn Maurice Ravel was impressed with Gershwin's abilities, commenting, "Personally I find jazz most interesting: the rhythms, the way the melodies are handled, the melodies themselves.
I have heard of George Gershwin's works and I find them intriguing. George Gershwin asked to study with Ravel. When Ravel heard how much Gershwin earned, Ravel replied with words to the effect of, "You should give me lessons. Gershwin's own Concerto in F was criticized for being related to the work of Claude Debussymore so than to the expected jazz style. The comparison did not deter him from continuing to explore French styles.
The title of An American in Paris reflects the very journey that he had consciously taken as a composer: "The opening part will be developed in typical French style, in the manner of Debussy and Les Sixthough the tunes are original. He also asked Schoenberg for composition lessons. Schoenberg refused, saying "I would only make you a bad Schoenberg, and you're such a good Gershwin already.
He attended the American premiere of Wozzeckconducted by Leopold Stokowski inand was "thrilled and deeply impressed". Russian Joseph Schillinger 's influence as Gershwin's teacher of composition — was substantial in providing him with a method of composition. There has been some disagreement about the nature of Schillinger's influence on Gershwin.
After the posthumous success of Porgy and BessSchillinger claimed he had a large and direct influence in overseeing the creation of the opera; Ira completely denied that his brother had any such assistance for this work.
A third account of Gershwin's musical relationship with his teacher was written by Gershwin's close friend Vernon Dukealso a Schillinger student, in an article for the Musical Quarterly in What set Gershwin apart was his ability to manipulate forms of music into his own unique voice. He took the jazz he discovered on Tin Pan Alley into the mainstream by splicing its rhythms and tonality with that of the popular songs of his era. Although George Gershwin would seldom make grand statements about his music, he believed that "true music must reflect the thought and aspirations of the people and time.
My people are Americans. My time is today. Recognizing the profound and positive effect of popular music on culture, the prize is given annually to a composer or performer whose lifetime contributions exemplify the standard of excellence associated with the Gershwins.
Early in his career, under both his own name and pseudonyms, Gershwin recorded more than one hundred and forty player piano rolls which were a main source of his income. The majority were popular music of the period and a smaller proportion were of his own works. Once his musical theatre-writing income became substantial, his regular roll-recording career became superfluous.
He did record additional rolls throughout the s of his main hits for the Aeolian Company's reproducing piano, including a complete version of his Rhapsody in Blue.
Compared to the piano rolls, there are few accessible audio recordings of Gershwin's playing. The recorded balance highlights the banjo playing of Van Eps, and the piano is overshadowed, One. The recording took place before "Swanee" became famous as an Al Jolson specialty in early Gershwin recorded an abridged version of Rhapsody in Blue with Paul Whiteman and his orchestra for the Victor Talking Machine Company insoon after the world premiere. Gershwin and the same orchestra made an electrical recording of the abridged version for Victor in However, a dispute in the studio over interpretation angered Whiteman and he left.
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