Born: Brooklyn, 26 Sept 1898
Died: Hollywood, 11 July 1937
Nationality: American composer
Essentially self-taught, he was first a song plugger in tin pan alley and an accompanist. in his teens he began to compose popular songs and produced a succession of musicals from 1919 to 1933 ("Lady, be Good!," 1924; "Oh, Kay!," 1926; "Strike up the Band," 1927; "Funny Face," 1927; "Girl Crazy," 1930); the lyrics were generally by his brother Ira (1896-1983). In 1924 he became famous: he wrote "Rhapsody in Blue" as a concerto for piano and Paul Whiteman's jazz band. Its success led him to devote increasing energy to "serious" composition. His more ambitious works include the Piano Concerto in F (1925) and the tone poem "An American in Paris" (1928). But he continued composing for the musical theatre, and some of his most successful musicals ("Strike up the Band," "Girl Crazy," "Of Thee I Sing") date from this period. In 1934-5 he wrote his American folk opera "Porgy and Bess," which draws on African-American idioms; given on Broadway, it was only a limited success. Gershwin went to Hollywood in 1936 and wrote songs for films. He was a sensitive songwriter of great melodic gifts and did much to create syntheses between jazz and classical traditions in his concert music and black folk music and opera in "Porgy and Bess."
Selected Works Include:
- Blue Monday Blues (1922)
- Porgy and Bess (1935), incl. Summertime, It ain't necessarily so, I got plenty o' nuttin'
- La La Lucille (1919)
- Broadway Brevities of 1920, incl. Swanee
- Lady, be Good! (1924), incl. Fascinating Rhythm
- Oh Kay! (1926), incl. Do, do, do, Someone to watch over me
- Strike up the Band (1927)
- Funny Face (1927), incl. 'S wonderful
- Girl Crazy (1930), incl. Embraceable you, I got rhythm
- Of Thee I sing (1931)
- 6 film scores
- 40 incl. The man I love (1924), How long has this been going on circa (1927)
- Rialto Ripples, pf (1917)
-  Preludes, pf (1926)
- Rhapsody in Blue, jazz band, pf, orch (1924)
- Conc., F, pf, orch (1925)
- An American in Paris, tone poem, orch (1928)
- Cuban Ov., orch (1932)
THE GROVE CONCISE DICTIONARY OF MUSIC
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