Geroge Gershwin Case
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George Gershwin was born Jacob Gershowitz on September 26, 1898. He was the son of Russian-Jewish immigrants. George first showed an interest in music when he was 10 years old when he attended a violin recital. That year his parents bought a piano for his older brother, Ira. To their surprise, it was George who played it.
After studying with various piano teachers, he was introduced to Charles Hambitzer. Hambitzer mentored Gershwin. He taught him conventional piano technique and introduced him to European classical tradition. Gershwin would attend orchestra concerts and attempt to reproduce the music on the piano. He also studied with Rubin Goldmark, a classical composer.
He dropped out of school at 15 and began working as a song-plugger in Tin Pan Alley. In 1916 he composed his first published song. “When You Want Em You Cant Get Em.” By 1919, he had his first hit “Swanee” and his first Broadway show “La, La, Lucille.”
In 1924, he wrote “Rhapsody in Blue,” after promising Paul Whiteman he would write him a jazz number. He forgot about the promise to write the piece until he read a newspaper article about Whitemans concert. He wrote at a manic pace so he could meet the deadline. This became his most well known work.
He went on to write operas and songs for movies such as “Shall We Dance” starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. In 1937, doctors discovered Gershwin had a brain tumor. He died in surgery to remove the tumor at the age of 38.
As stated before, “Rhapsody in Blue” was his most well known work. The piece was inspired in part by the rhythmic noises of a train ride. The opening was tailored for Whitemans first-chair clarinetist. Due to the hurried circumstances under which it was written, Gershwin had no time to write out the solo passages, so he improvised them at the concert. The piece eludes classification. Is it classical music with pop elements or jazz with serious pretensions?
No one has ever come close to composing anything like “Rhapsody in Blue.” Most attempts seem awkward. It has, however, inspired composers such as Ravel, Stravinsky, and Milhaud to explore jazz. He has also stirred countless pop composers. Countless singers and musicians have recorded his songs: including Fred Astaire, Louis Armstrong, Dean Martin, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Billie Holliday, Diana Ross, Miles Davis and even Sting.
Biography for George Gershwin. (n.d.). Retrieved June 20, 2012, from
Biography of George Gershwin. (n.d.). Retrieved June 20, 2012, from
George Gershwin, biography. (n.d.). Retrieved