- Gershwin, George
- (1898-1937)Born Jacob Gershvin, George Gershwin became one of America’s most famous composers of orchestral works, popular songs, jazz, and musical comedies. He worked as a pianist for a music publisher from 1914 to 1917, when he became a theater pianist. In 1919, he achieved his first hit with “Swanee,” later recorded by Al Jolson. From 1920 on, Gershwin composed musical reviews, Broadway plays, and orchestral pieces. His best-known works were Rhapsody in Blue (1923), Piano Concerto in F (1925), An American in Paris (1928), and the opera written with Ira and based on the novel by DuBose Heyward, Porgy and Bess (1935), all notable for their combination of jazz and orchestral music. Together with his brother Ira Gershwin, George Gershwin composed many hit songs for musicals. Among the best-known songs in these were “Fascinating Rhythm,” “Someone to Watch over Me,” “’S Wonderful,” “Embraceable You,” and “I got Rhythm.” In 1936, the Gershwins went to Hollywood, where they wrote the music for Shall We Dance? (1937). Starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, the movie included such hits as “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” and “They Can’t Take That Away from Me.” The Gershwins provided the music for two more movies, A Damsel in Distress (1937) and The Goldwyn Follies (1938), before George’s death. Gershwin’s music was incorporated into a number of films after his death, most notably Rhapsody in Blue (1945), An American in Paris (1951), and Manhattan (1979). In 1998, Gershwin was awarded a posthumous Pulitzer prize for his contributions to musical writing.See also Cinema.
Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era . Neil A. Wynn . 2015.