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Saturday, 28 March 2015

George Gershwin

George Gershwin was born to Russian Yiddish immigrants Moishe Gershowitz and Roza Bruskina on September 26, 1898 in a second-floor dwelling at 242 Snediker Avenue, Brooklyn.

George's childhood piano teacher refused payment, saying: "I have a new pupil who will make his mark if anybody will. The boy is a genius."

On leaving school at the age of 15, Gershwin found his first job as a "song plugger" for Jerome H. Remick and Company, a publishing firm on New York City's Tin Pan Alley, where he earned $15 a week.

George Gershwin, c. 1935.
His first published song was "When You Want 'Em, You Can't Get 'Em, When You've Got 'Em, You Don't Want 'Em". It was published in 1916 when Gershwin was only 17-years-old and earned him $0.50.

Gerswhin scored his first big success 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 record it. Jolson's version became an international hit.

In 1923, bandleader Paul Whiteman commissioned Gershwin to write a short composition for a jazz concert. The result was “Rhapsody in Blue” which premiered at Aeolian Hall, New York City on February 12, 1924 and became one of his most acclaimed works.


Gershwin conceived his famous piano concerto while on a train to Boston. He said at the beginning of 1924: "I had already done some work on the rhapsody. It was on the train, with its steely rhythms, its rattle-ty bang that is often so stimulating for a composer."

George Gershwin's life work culminated in the three act opera Porgy and Bess, which was based on the 1926 novel Porgy by DuBose Heyward. A jazzy fusion of classical opera and Broadway musical, the work was set in the fictional all-black slum dwelling of Catfish Row in Charleston, South Carolina.

Gershwin loved to entertain guests with his prized collection of movies at his mansion’s built-in cinema.


A live-long bachelor, George Gershwin fell in love with Paulette Goddard, then married to Charlie Chaplin. He was heartbroken that she would not leave her husband for him. When he fell ill, that June, it was written off as stress. Gershwin died a month later, on the morning of July 11, 1937, at the age of 38

The cause of death was a brain tumor, five hours after a failed surgical attempt to remove it. Funerals were held in both Hollywood and New York.

George Gershwin's final song was "Love Is Here To Stay." The composer started writing the tune for The Goldwyn Follies shortly before he died. Composer Vernon Duke completed the melody after George's death with the help of Oscar Levant, who remembered the harmonies of the song from when when Gershwin played it at parties.

Source Wikipedia

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