The Memory of All that: The Life of George Gershwin

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Billboard Books, 1998 - Biography & Autobiography - 319 pages
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In her startling, revealing new biography, Joan Peyser gives us a brand-new George Gershwin. Although there have been other biographies of Gershwin that chronicle the dates of his compositions and performances, The Memory of All That is the first to examine the real Gershwin. Joan Peyser shows us the songwriter who became a composer, struggling - in vain - to achieve recognition in serious-music circles. She describes how the criticism that greeted his compositions after the success of Rhapsody in Blue, due largely to anti-Semitic and anti-American musical prejudices, left him disappointed and, eventually, anguished. Ms. Peyser examines the relationship between George and his brother and collaborator, Ira, whose lyrics, she believes, constitute a sort of coded biography of George's life, complete with references to the women with whom he was having affairs. The Memory of All That also contains revelations that have already generated controversy. Ms. Peyser reveals that the brain tumor that killed Gershwin at the age of thirty-eight was not the fast-growing cancerous one then described to the public but a slow-growing tumor, perhaps caused by emotional turmoil, that was, even then, operable. Gershwin suffered for years from symptoms that were dismissed as manifestations of neurotic depression by his psychiatrist and his family. Ms. Peyser also reveals that Gershwin maintained several long-term liaisons, generally with married women. Some of these affairs have never been mentioned in any previous biography, and one, with an actress and chorus girl named Mollie Charleston, produced a son who is still alive. With the same intimate, insightful approach that made her Bernstein a best-seller,Joan Peyser has written a wholehearted appreciation of the musical genius that was George Gershwin.

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Aaron Copland Abbie Mitchell Adele Astaire Aeolian Aeolian Hall Alan Alexander Woollcott Alexander's Ragtime Band Alvin Theater American in Paris Ann Ronell Arnold Schoenberg ASCAP asked band began Bennett Cerf Berlin Bill Daly Blue Monday Broadway brother Buddy DeSylva came Carl Van Vechten Carnegie Hall Charleston Cole Porter composer concert Concerto in F conductor Copland Daly dance David Diamond Dearborn Independent DeSylva Donald Kahn Dubose Heyward Edward Jablonski Ethel Merman Eubie Blake Fannie Hurst Fanny Brice Ferde Grofe Frances Gershwin Frankie friends Funny Face George Gershwin George's Gersh Gershwin wrote Gertrude Lawrence Ginger Rogers Girl Crazy Glazunov Godowsky Goldberg Goldwyn Follies Got Rhythm Gus Kahn Guy Bolton Harold Arlen Heifetz Henry Cowell Heyward himself Howard Dietz Ira Gershwin Ira's Irving Berlin Irving Caesar James Reese Europe Jascha Heifetz jazz Jed Harris Jerome Kern Jews Joseph Schillinger Julia Van Katharine Weber Kay Swift Kern Kitty Carlisle knew La La Lucille later Leonore Leopold Godowsky letter Levant Lewisohn Stadium libretto Lou Paley Luckey Roberts Marilyn Miller married Mitch Miller Morton Gould Mueller musical theater musicians Nancy Bloomer Deussen Negro never Olin Downes opened opera orchestra Oscar Levant Otto Kahn Paley Pallay Pardon My English Paul Whiteman Paulette Goddard Pauline performance pianist piano piano rolls piece played popular music Porgy and Bess ragtime Red Nichols rehearsal Remick's Rhapsody in Blue Rhythm Robert Russell Bennett Ronell Rose Ruby Elzy says Schillinger Schoenberg score Second Rhapsody Show Boat Sigmund Romberg singing Smattering of Ignorance songs songwriter Stravinsky Street Swanee Theater Thee I Sing Tin Pan Alley told took Van Norman Varese Vernon Duke Victor Herbert Virgil Thomson Vodery wanted weeks went Whiteman writes Yiddish Yip Harburg York Ziegfeld Ziegfeld Follies Zilboorg

About the author (1998)

Peyser has been a writer for The New York Times for over 20 years

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