|Height:||179 cm (5' 11'')|
|Birth Day:||September 26, 1898|
|Death Date:||July 11, 1937(1937-07-11) (aged 38)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Birth Place:||Brooklyn, United States|
As per our current Database, George Gershwin died on July 11, 1937(1937-07-11) (aged 38)
Los Angeles, California, U.S..
|Height||Weight||Hair Colour||Eye Colour||Blood Type||Tattoo(s)|
|179 cm (5' 11'')||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
On September 26, 1898, George was born as second son to Morris and Rose Bruskin Gershwin in their second-floor apartment at 242 Snediker Avenue in Brooklyn. 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. After Ira and George, another boy, Arthur Gershwin (1900–1981), and a girl, Frances Gershwin (1906–1999), were born into the family.
In 1913, Gershwin left school at the age of 15 and found his first job as a "song plugger". His employer was Jerome H. Remick and Company, a Detroit-based publishing firm with a branch office on New York City's Tin Pan Alley, and he earned $15 a week.
His first published song was "When You Want 'Em, You Can't Get 'Em, When You've Got 'Em, You Don't Want 'Em" in 1916 when Gershwin was only 17 years old. It earned him 50 cents.
In 1916, Gershwin started working for Aeolian Company and Standard Music Rolls in New York, recording and arranging. 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 vaudeville, accompanying both Nora Bayes and Louise Dresser on the piano. His 1917 novelty ragtime, "Rialto Ripples", was a commercial success.
With a degree of frustration, George tried various piano teachers for about two years (circa 1911) before finally being introduced to Charles Hambitzer by Jack Miller (circa 1913), the pianist in the Beethoven Symphony Orchestra. Until his death in 1918, Hambitzer 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.
In 1919 he scored his first big national hit with his song "Swanee," with words by Irving Caesar. Al Jolson, a famous Broadway singer of the day, heard Gershwin perform "Swanee" at a party and decided to sing it in one of his shows.
Compared to the piano rolls, there are few accessible audio recordings of Gershwin's playing. His first recording was his own "Swanee" with the Fred Van Eps Trio in 1919. The recorded balance highlights the banjo playing of Van Eps, and the piano is overshadowed. The recording took place before "Swanee" became famous as an Al Jolson specialty in early 1920.
In 1924, Gershwin composed his first major classical work, Rhapsody in Blue, for orchestra and piano. It was orchestrated by Ferde Grofé and premiered by Paul Whiteman's Concert Band, in New York. 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 1920s Gershwin had frequently worked with the lyricist Buddy DeSylva. Together they created the experimental one-act jazz opera Blue Monday, set in Harlem. It is widely regarded as a forerunner to the groundbreaking Porgy and Bess. In 1924, George and Ira Gershwin collaborated on a stage musical comedy Lady Be Good, which included such future standards as "Fascinating Rhythm" and "Oh, Lady Be Good!". They followed this with Oh, Kay! (1926), Funny Face (1927) and Strike Up the Band (1927 and 1930). Gershwin allowed the song, with a modified title, to be used as a football fight song, "Strike Up The Band for UCLA".
Gershwin recorded an abridged version of Rhapsody in Blue with Paul Whiteman and his orchestra for the Victor Talking Machine Company in 1924, soon after the world premiere. Gershwin and the same orchestra made an electrical recording of the abridged version for Victor in 1927. However, a dispute in the studio over interpretation angered Whiteman and he left. The conductor's baton was taken over by Victor's staff conductor Nathaniel Shilkret.
In the mid-1920s, Gershwin stayed in Paris for a short period of time, during which he applied to study composition with the noted Nadia Boulanger, who, along with several other prospective tutors such as Maurice Ravel, turned him down, afraid that rigorous classical study would ruin his jazz-influenced style. Maurice Ravel's rejection letter to Gershwin told him, "Why become a second-rate Ravel when you're already a first-rate Gershwin?" While there, Gershwin wrote An American in Paris. This work received mixed reviews upon its first performance at Carnegie Hall on December 13, 1928, but it quickly became part of the standard repertoire in Europe and the United States.
In 1929, the Gershwin brothers created Show Girl; The following year brought Girl Crazy, which introduced the standards "Embraceable You", debuted by Ginger Rogers, and "I Got Rhythm". 1931's Of Thee I Sing became the first musical comedy to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama; the winners were George S. Kaufman, Morrie Ryskind, and Ira Gershwin.
Gershwin made a number of solo piano recordings of tunes from his musicals, some including the vocals of Fred and Adele Astaire, as well as his Three Preludes for piano. In 1929, Gershwin "supervised" the world premiere recording of An American in Paris with Nathaniel Shilkret and the Victor Symphony Orchestra. Gershwin's role in the recording was rather limited, particularly because Shilkret was conducting and had his own ideas about the music. When it was realized that no one had been hired to play the brief celeste solo, Gershwin was asked if he could and would play the instrument, and he agreed. Gershwin can be heard, rather briefly, on the recording during the slow section.
Gershwin was intrigued by the works of Alban Berg, Dmitri Shostakovich, Igor Stravinsky, Darius Milhaud, and Arnold Schoenberg. 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." (This quote is similar to one credited to Maurice Ravel during Gershwin's 1928 visit to France – "Why be a second-rate Ravel, when you are a first-rate Gershwin?") Gershwin was particularly impressed by the music of Berg, who gave him a score of the Lyric Suite. He attended the American premiere of Wozzeck, conducted by Leopold Stokowski in 1931, and was "thrilled and deeply impressed".
A 74-second newsreel film clip of Gershwin playing I Got Rhythm has survived, filmed at the opening of the Manhattan Theater (now The Ed Sullivan Theater) in August 1931. There are also silent home movies of Gershwin, some of them shot on Kodachrome color film stock, which have been featured in tributes to the composer. In addition, there is newsreel footage of Gershwin playing "Mademoiselle from New Rochelle" and "Strike Up the Band" on the piano during a Broadway rehearsal of the 1930 production of Strike Up the Band. In the mid-30s, "Strike Up The Band" was given to UCLA to be used as a football fight song, "Strike Up The Band for UCLA". The comedy team of Clark and McCullough are seen conversing with Gershwin, then singing as he plays.
In 1934, in an effort to earn money to finance his planned folk opera, Gershwin hosted his own radio program titled Music by Gershwin. The show was broadcast on the NBC Blue Network from February to May and again in September through the final show on December 23, 1934. He presented his own work as well as the work of other composers. Recordings from this and other radio broadcasts include his Variations on I Got Rhythm, portions of the Concerto in F, and numerous songs from his musical comedies. He also recorded a run-through of his Second Rhapsody, conducting the orchestra and playing the piano solos. Gershwin recorded excerpts from Porgy and Bess with members of the original cast, conducting the orchestra from the keyboard; he even announced the selections and the names of the performers. In 1935 RCA Victor asked him to supervise recordings of highlights from Porgy and Bess; these were his last recordings.
After the commercial failure of Porgy and Bess, Gershwin moved to Hollywood, California. In 1936, he was commissioned by RKO Pictures to write the music for the film Shall We Dance, starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Gershwin's extended score, which would marry ballet with jazz in a new way, runs over an hour in length. It took Gershwin several months to compose and orchestrate.
Early in 1937, Gershwin began to complain of blinding headaches and a recurring impression that he smelled burning rubber. On February 11, 1937, he performed his Piano Concerto in F in a special concert of his music with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra under the direction of French maestro Pierre Monteux. Gershwin, normally a superb pianist in his own compositions, suffered coordination problems and blackouts during the performance. He was at the time working on other Hollywood film projects while living with Ira and his wife Leonore 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.
Gershwin's friends and fans were shocked and devastated. John O'Hara remarked: "George Gershwin died on July 11, 1937, but I don't have to believe it if I don't want to." He was interred at Westchester Hills Cemetery in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York. A memorial concert was held at the Hollywood Bowl on September 8, 1937, at which Otto Klemperer conducted his own orchestration of the second of Gershwin's Three Preludes.
In 1945, the film biography Rhapsody in Blue was made, starring Robert Alda as George Gershwin. The film contains many factual errors about Gershwin's life, but also features many examples of his music, including an almost complete performance of Rhapsody in Blue.
Russian Joseph Schillinger's influence as Gershwin's teacher of composition (1932–1936) 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 Bess, Schillinger 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 Duke, also a Schillinger student, in an article for the Musical Quarterly in 1947.
In 1965, Movietone Records released an album MTM 1009 featuring Gershwin's piano rolls of the titled George Gershwin plays RHAPSODY IN BLUE and his other favorite compositions. The B-side of the LP featured nine other recordings.
In 1975, Columbia Records released an album featuring Gershwin's piano rolls of Rhapsody In Blue, accompanied by the Columbia Jazz Band playing the original jazz band accompaniment, conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas. The B-side of the Columbia Masterworks release features Tilson Thomas leading the New York Philharmonic in An American In Paris.
In 1976, RCA Records, as part of its "Victrola Americana" line, released a collection of Gershwin recordings taken from 78s recorded in the 1920s and called the LP "Gershwin plays Gershwin, Historic First Recordings" (RCA Victrola AVM1-1740). Included were recordings of "Rhapsody in Blue" with the Paul Whiteman Orchestra and Gershwin on piano; "An American in Paris", from 1927 with Gershwin on celesta; and "Three Preludes", "Clap Yo' Hands" and Someone to Watch Over Me", among others. There are a total of ten recordings on the album. At the opening ceremony of the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, "Rhapsody in Blue" was performed in spectacular fashion by many pianists.
In 1993, two audio CDs featuring piano rolls recorded by Gershwin were issued by Nonesuch Records through the efforts of Artis Wodehouse, and entitled Gershwin Plays Gershwin: The Piano Rolls.
In 2005, The Guardian determined using "estimates of earnings accrued in a composer's lifetime" that George Gershwin was the wealthiest composer of all time.
In 2007, the Library of Congress named its Prize for Popular Song after George and Ira Gershwin. 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. On March 1, 2007, the first Gershwin Prize was awarded to Paul Simon.
In October 2009, it was reported by Rolling Stone that Brian Wilson was completing two unfinished compositions by George Gershwin, released as Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin on August 17, 2010, consisting of ten George and Ira Gershwin songs, bookended by passages from "Rhapsody in Blue", with two new songs completed from unfinished Gershwin fragments by Wilson and band member Scott Bennett.
In September 2013, a partnership between the estates of Ira and George Gershwin and the University of Michigan was created and will provide the university's School of Music, Theatre, and Dance access to Gershwin's entire body of work, which includes all of Gershwin's papers, compositional drafts, and scores. This direct access to all of his works will provide opportunities to musicians, composers, and scholars to analyze and reinterpret his work with the goal of accurately reflecting the composers' vision in order to preserve his legacy. The first fascicles of The Gershwin Critical Edition, edited by Mark Clague, are expected in 2017; they will cover the 1924 jazz band version of Rhapsody in Blue, An American in Paris and Porgy and Bess.
Currently, George Gershwin is 124 years, 5 months and 23 days old. George Gershwin will celebrate 125th birthday on a Tuesday 26th of September 2023.
Find out about George Gershwin birthday activities in timeline view here.