George Gershwin: His Life and Work

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University of California Press, Jan 15, 2007 - Music - 901 pages
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This comprehensive biography of George Gershwin (1898-1937) unravels the myths surrounding one of America's most celebrated composers and establishes the enduring value of his music. Gershwin created some of the most beloved music of the twentieth century and, along with Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin, and Cole Porter, helped make the golden age of Broadway golden. Howard Pollack draws from a wealth of sketches, manuscripts, letters, interviews, books, articles, recordings, films, and other materials—including a large cache of Gershwin scores discovered in a Warner Brothers warehouse in 1982—to create an expansive chronicle of Gershwin’s meteoric rise to fame. He also traces Gershwin’s powerful presence that, even today, extends from Broadway, jazz clubs, and film scores to symphony halls and opera houses.

Pollack’s lively narrative describes Gershwin’s family, childhood, and education; his early career as a pianist; his friendships and romantic life; his relation to various musical trends; his writings on music; his working methods; and his tragic death at the age of 38. Unlike Kern, Berlin, and Porter, who mostly worked within the confines of Broadway and Hollywood, Gershwin actively sought to cross the boundaries between high and low, and wrote works that crossed over into a realm where art music, jazz, and Broadway met and merged. The author surveys Gershwin’s entire oeuvre, from his first surviving compositions to the melodies that his brother and principal collaborator, Ira Gershwin, lyricized after his death. Pollack concludes with an exploration of the performances and critical reception of Gershwin's music over the years, from his time to ours.
 

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George Gershwin: his life and work

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Pollack (music, Univ. of Houston;Aaron Copland: The Life and Work of an Uncommon Man ) here turns his attention to another American composer, George Gershwin (1898-1937). While he lacks the firsthand ... Read full review

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Not a review proper, just a spontaneous assessment: This seems to me to be THE book on George Gershwin. I, an elderly Dane with limited musical background, needed information on the European first-night of Porgy and Bess, on 27th of March 1943 (while Denmark was occupied by Nazi-Germany), and after having consulted the Danish Royal Theatre's archive I did find out of something - only to learn from the internet that Pollack had found out of more. Pondering over how extremely small a corner of the total George Gershwin knowledge this first-night in Copenhagen stands for, I feel certain that Howard Pollack has done a marvellous job with this entire volume. Are you there, Howard? Congratulations with your book. I would feel honoured if you would send me a greeting - mail address: pouleiner@vip.cybercity.dk
Sincerely,
Poul Einer Hansen
co-editor of the Danish opera magazine ASCOLTA
(not a worldwide publication but we do our very best)
 

Contents

Gershwin and His Family
3
Gershwins Musical Education to the Rhapsody in Blue 1924
22
Gershwin and the New Popular Music
41
The Popular Pianist
61
Toward a Career in the Theater
81
Gershwin among His Friends
96
Later Studies
118
Gershwin and the Great Tradition
136
Strike Up the Band and Funny Face 1927
395
Rosalie and Treasure Girl 1928
417
An American in Paris 1928 and East Is West 1929
431
Show Girl and The Dybbuk 1929
451
Girl Crazy 1930
465
Delicious and the Second Rhapsody 1931
482
Of Thee I Sing 1931
499
George Gershwins SongBook 1932
519

Gershwin and Popular Music and Jazz after 1920
157
Working Methods
175
Gershwin the Man
193
Work
217
From Ragging the Traumerei ca 1913 to The Capitol Revue 1919
219
From Morris Gests Midnight Whirl 1919 to The Perfect Fool 1921
242
From The French Doll to Our Nell 1922
263
From The Sunshine Trail to Sweet Little Devil 1923
279
The Rhapsody in Blue 1924
294
The Scandals of 1924 Primrose and Lady Be Good 1924
316
Short StoryTell Me More and the Concerto in F 1925
337
TipToes and Song of the Flame 1925
359
Oh Kay and Other Works 1926
377
The Cuban Overture 1932 and Pardon My English 1933
534
Let Em Eat Cake 1933 and Variations on I Got Rhythm 1934
549
Porgy and Bess 1935
567
The First Production of Porgy and Bess
592
Porgy and Bess in Revival
609
Porgy and Bess on Disc Film and the Concert Stage
641
From Swing Is King 1936 to A Damsel in Distress 1937
665
From The Goldwyn Follies 1938 to Kiss Me Stupid 1964
684
Conclusion
701
Notes
707
Selected Bibliography
817
Index
825
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Page 22 - To this very day I can't hear the tune without picturing myself outside that arcade on One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Street, standing there barefoot and in overalls, drinking it all in avidly.

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About the author (2007)

Howard Pollack is John and Rebecca Moores Professor of Music at the University of Houston. Among his books are Aaron Copland: The Life and Work of an Uncommon Man and John Alden Carpenter: A Chicago Composer.

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