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George Gershwin (1898 1937) Essay

1321 words - 6 pages

George Gershwin (1898-1937)

George Gershwin, born in Brooklyn, New York on 26 September 1898, was born the second of four children of Morris and Rose Gershovitz, Russians who immigrated to New York in 1891. George and his family lived on Manhattan's lower east side in a poor Jewish community. After settling down in New York, his father changed the family name to Gershvin. It was George who later altered his last name to Gershwin when he entered the professional world of music. Most of his family was not musically talented, but his brother Ira became a wonderful well-known musician.

Most of Gershwin's early childhood was spent playing sports, which he was good at, and it ...view middle of the document...

B. arms, Max Dryfus, and he toured as an accompanist for musician Nora Bayes.

Gershwin began to get a few of his songs set into current musical shows and his popularity began to grow. His first big success came in 1919 when Al Jolson helped him promote Swanee by adding tit to his touring show. This same year, Gershwin also
completed his first Broadway show La, La, Lucille.

During the 1920's, Gershwin's popularity grew as he began writing successful musicals for many well-known performers. Gershwin's music was now taking a new turn. He was writing serious music, which made his musical career take off. Many of the serious works that he was composing became some of his most famous accomplishments in the musical world. His growing reputation writing serious music brought him a steady income. Gershwin's interest in serious music had increased so much that he now wanted to write full-length operas, which he had been contemplating for years.

By 1935, Gershwin had successfully written several serious compositions, but it was during this year in particular that his most famous opera, Porgy and Bess, was performed. This opera received mixed reviews and led Gershwin to pursue an interest for films. Gershwin moved to California and wrote several film scores.

In 1937, Gershwin became seriously ill. He began experiencing headaches, dizzy spells, and blackouts. Several examinations of his illness ended with negative results. His headaches increased in frequency until he went into a coma on July 9th of that year. A diagnosis of a brain tumor was finally made. Gershwin never came out of the coma, and passed away only two days later on July 11th, 1937 during an operation to remove the tumor.

Gershwin was greatly influenced during his lifetime by several musicians. The strongest influence on his life as a musician came during his youth from his instructor Charles Hambitzer. Hambitzer introduced Gershwin to the music of Debusy and Ravel, the early works of Arnold Schoenberg, and classical piano. Certain composers such as Irving Berlin and Jerome Kern were also major influences on Gershwin's musical composition life. Gershwin also gained a lot f his musical inspiration from the sounds of African-American music and Jewish chant.

During the nineteen twenties and nineteen thirties, Gershwin's presence on the musical scene was like a brilliant, dazzling star streaking through the minds of the American people. His excellence still lives in writing style continues to influence others.

Gershwin was, without a doubt, an innovator. What he has done with rhythm, harmony and melody is much more than merely style. His style is fundamentally different from the mannerism of many other serious composers. The music of other serious composers could be taken into pieces and put back together in a different way. This could not be done with Gershwin's music. His melodies were units not...

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