George Gershwin Essay, Research Paper
George Gershwin was one of the most widely remembered composers in America. Gershwin’s style of jazz was one all on its own.
Naturally he was born in America, but his roots grew from St. Petersburg, Russia. (Charles Osborne;Page 136) In the late 1800’s Morris and Rose Gershwin immigrated to the USA. (;Page1) George’s parents were married in 1895. (Charles Osborne;Page 136) George’s father Morris Gershwin was originally Gershovitz, but changed to Gershvin after his emigration. (;Page 1)
George had moved at least 28 times before he was 18. The reason for this was because his father always wanted to be near the family business. Morris was an entrepreneur who had many jobs. (;Page 1)
George had three siblings who consisted of Ira, Arthur, and Frances. His eldest brother Ira (Israel) he was born on December 8, 1896. (Charles Osborne;Page 136) Also was his younger brother Arthur who was born 2 years after George. ( ;Page 1) Frances was George’s only sister who was born on December 6, 1906. (Charles Osborne; Page 136)
George was not a very good student, his grades were poor and he misbehaved a lot. ( ;Page 1) George had notes sent home from teachers, but got the neighbors to sign for him. ( ;Page 1) Once he even got Ira to pose as his dad. ( ;Page 2) In 1912 he was sent to the High school of Commerce to become an accountant, since he was decent in math. ( ;Page 2) At the age of 15 in May 1914 George dropped out of school to become a Tin Pin Alley “song plunger”. (Terry Teachout;Page 4 / Charles Osborne;Page 136)
Christened Jacob Gershvin, later changed to George Gershwin, was born on September 26, 1898. George was conceived in the family home in Brooklyn, New York. He was the second son to Morris and Pose Gershwin. ( ;Page 1)
George was outgoing and did not like indoor activities like reading or music. ( ;Page 1) George was considered the roller skating champion and liked to fight. ( ;Page 2) Gershwin had not learned to play piano till he was 12 years old. (Terry Teachout;Page 4) In 1904 on 125th street in Harlem he heard an automatic piano plain Rubinsteins Melody in F. (Charles Osborne;Page 136) George particularly liked a ragtime pianists on Coney Island. (Charles Osborne;Page 136) In 1910 the Gershwin purchased a piano for their son Ira, but instead George took it over. (FanFaire;Page 2) His piano teacher and mentor was Charles Hambitzer until he died in 1918. (FanFaire;Page 2) During the summer of 1913 he took a job as a piano player at one of the resorts in the Catskilks. ( ;Page 3)
In 1915 George started making piano rolls a five dollars a roll or six for twenty-five dollars. ( ;Page3) March 1, 1916 Gershwin signed his first professional contract for a song called “When You Want ‘Em, You Can’t Get ‘Em, When You’ve Got ‘Em, You Don’t Want ‘Em.” ( ;Page 3) In March of 1917 he quit Tin Pin Alley and decided he wanted to do musical theater. ( ;Page3) In 1918 Gershwin became acquainted with a man named Dreyfus, who was head of the most important publishing house in Tin Pin Alley. ( ;Page 3) Dreyfus signed George a contract at thirty-five dollars per week, and three cents per copy of sheet of music sold. ( ;Page 3) All the music under Dreyfus written was all George’s own. ( ;Page 3) There is no sign of any decline in Gershwin’s reputation; indeed it seems to improve steadily and he has been given more literary attention than any other American composer has. (Charles Osborne;Page 138)
In February George experienced a blackout during his performance of Concerto in F with the LA Philharmonic, and later suffers from headaches. On July 9th he lapses into a coma and undergoes brain surgery. On July 10th they go in to remove the tumor, but it was too late. George Gershwin died on the morning of July 11, 1937. (FanFaire;Page 10)
Historically speaking, Gershwin’s significance as a songwriter lies in his use of jazz-derived techniques. His melodies are full of flattened thirds and sevenths known in jazz as “blue” notes and the springy syncopation’s he picked up from the “stride” pianists of Harlem. But jazz was by no means the only idiom that influenced Gershwin. “Blue” melodic inflections are also to be found in the Yiddish-theater music he listened to as a boy, while classical training gave him a frame of reference far wider than that of a self-taught tunesmith like Irving Berlin. It was thus a logical development for him to compose longer instrumental pieces in which his varied influences could be integrated into a coherent style.( Terry Teachout;Page 6)
“There had been so much chatter about the limitations of jazz not to speak of the manifest misunderstandings of its function. Jazz, they said, had to be in strict time. It had to cling to dance rhythms. I resolved, if possible, to kill that misconception with one sturdy blow. Inspired by this aim, I set to work composing with unwonted rapidity. No set plan was in my mind-no structure to which my music would confirm. The rhapsody, as you see, began as a purpose, not a plan.” Said George Gershwin. ( ;Page 4)
Preliminary note from the New York Concerto:
( ;Page 5)
Gershwin’s first full-scale musical was La La Lucille, which opened in the Henry Miller Theater May 26,1919. (Charles Osborne;Page 137 / ;Page3) One of his most famous flops was Blue Monday Blues a jazz opera 25 minutes long that opened in 1922. ( ;Page 4) Of course, Rhapsody in Blue started on January 7, 1924 and was completed on February 4, 1924. The concert Rhapsody in Blue was scheduled to be performed on February 12. ( ;Page 4) Piano Concerto in F was started in July 1925 and premiered on December 3, 1925, and was a serious concert he produced himself. (FanFaire;Page 8) “A tone poem for orchestra” was the debut of An American in Paris, which was on December 13, 1928. ( ;Page 6) And last but not least, Porgy and Bess, Gershwin signed the contract for creation on 1933. (FanFaire;Page 9) Finally in 1935 he begins work on Porgy and Bess, it opens at the Alvin Theater on October 10.