George Gershwin

George Gershwin [' gɜ ʃwɪn ː ] ( born September 26, 1898 in Brooklyn, New York City; † July 11, 1937 in Hollywood) was an American composer, pianist and conductor.


George Gershwin was in 1898 when Jacob Gershovitz (named after his grandfather ) in Brooklyn, New York City, as a child of Russian- Jewish immigrants Morris and Rose Gershovitz Gershovitz (born Bruskin ) born. This had immigrated to about 1891 in the United States. George had two brothers, Ira (1896 - 1983) and Arthur Gershwin (1900 - 1981), as well as a sister, Frances Gershwin (1906 - 1999).

1910 bought the Gershwin's music for the hours of the elder son Ira, a piano, on which but soon played George Gershwin. After two years of Charles Hambitzer was his piano teacher and remained until his death in 1918, his mentor. Hambitzer taught George Gershwin conventional piano technique and let him play the European masterpieces. He encouraged him to attend orchestra concerts, trying at home that belonged to reproduce music on the piano. From 1914 George Gershwin worked as " house pianist " in the New York music publisher Jerome H. Remick. His task was soon to audition the band leaders and theater agents new songs of his publishing and selling them. Inspired by this work, he tried his hand at composing his own songs and dance pieces. In 1916 he began as a pianist piano rolls for Electric pianos to play on, first with Rags and other works by other composers. In the same year he was "When You Want 'Em You Can not Get' Em " publish as the first song. Despite the failure of this composition some Broadway composers were aware of him, and used in the coming years, several of his songs in her musicals.

His Ragtime " Rialto Ripples", also composed in 1916, was a financial success. Gershwin continued to study in these years with the composer Rubin Goldmark and avant-garde at the Henry Cowell Piano and Edward Kilenyi harmony, music theory and instrumentation. His great idols were now the Broadway composer Irving Berlin and Jerome Kern. In 1918 he succeeded with the song " Swanee " the first United States -wide hit, which led first on Broadway to his recognition as a composer. He interpreted his piano concerts as a pianist. On his trip to Europe in 1928, he met Igor Stravinsky know. He had a long love affair with composer Kay Swift, with whom he also professionally swapped to another next to the actress Paulette Goddard.

While George Gershwin worked in Hollywood on the score of "The Goldwyn Follies ", he collapsed on the wing, and died on July 11, 1937 at 10:35 clock from a brain tumor. He was buried in the Westchester Hills Cemetery in Hastings -on-Hudson (New York).

Artistic creation and effect

On January 7, 1924 Gershwin began with the writing of the Rhapsody for two pianos. For the duration of the emergence of Ferde Grofé moved in with him and drew from the piano version of the score for Whiteman's jazz orchestra. They worked hand in hand, and on February 4, the "Rhapsody in Blue" was finished, composed by George Gershwin and orchestrated by Ferde Grofé. The concert of Paul Whiteman's Orchestra in New York's Aeolian Hall on February 24, 1924 was a historic event of immense significance. It was as "Birth of Rhapsody in Blue" in history.

At the premiere, the crème de la crème was the musical and social New York attended, among others, Walter Damrosch as guest of honor. So it was that Gershwin short time later by the New York Symphony Society was commissioned to write an orchestral work. He said to a piano concert and received the guarantee of seven appearances as a soloist in New York, Philadelphia, Washington and Baltimore. He orchestrated the concert itself, the premiere of his Concerto in F was on December 3, 1925 in Carnegie Hall with the composer at the piano under the guidance of Damrosch instead.

Gershwin composed both for Broadway plays and classical concerts. From 1931 he also worked for the sound film as a composer. For most compositions by George Gershwin wrote his brother Ira the lyrics. 1924 produced George and Ira together the musical comedy Lady Be Good. Standards as " Fascinating Rhythm " and " The Man I Love" debuted in it. This was followed by " Oh, Kay! " (1926 ); " Funny Face" in 1927; " Strike Up the Band " (1927 and 1930 ); Girl Crazy (1930 ), which has become an evergreen song " I Got Rhythm "; " Of Thee I Sing" (1931 ), the first musical comedy, which was awarded a Pulitzer Prize. In 1933 appeared " Pardon My English ", the only musical that era, playing in Germany ( Dresden ). George and Ira Gershwin were among the most successful teams on Broadway. Her works have been performed by stars like Fred Astaire and his sister Adele, Gertrude Lawrence, Red Nichols, Ethel Merman and Ginger Rogers.

Before working on the opera Porgy and Bess Gershwin spent a summer in Iceland Folly near Charleston (South Carolina), to make themselves familiar with the Afro-American music. Gershwin has decreed that his main work must be performed only by scenic black singers.

Many of his works was also connected across America, large popularity. Some of his compositions have been used as film music. Others are considered jazz standards; they were interpreted by well-known stars of the American and international popular music, including Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Peter Gabriel, Ray Conniff, Percy Faith and Barbra Streisand. They found their way into jazz, such as interpretations of Herbie Hancock and Miles Davis, and in the rock, such as versions of Janis Joplin ( "Summertime" ).

Some of the Gershwin songs were in the era of bebop through transformation and reharmonization in new threads ( bebop heads ) and songs transformed. " Oh, Lady Be Good! " Was to Thelonious Monk's " Hackensack ", " But Not For Me " Tadd Dameron to " Sid 's Delight " and "I Got Rhythm " to Lester Young's " Lester Leaps In."

Gershwin was protagonist of symphonic jazz works, in which he opened the African American with contemporary symphonic culture (and thus also the opera) and combined entirely new worlds in an unprecedented way. In 1986, he was with his brother Ira awarded the Grammy Trustees Award for his services to the music.


His most famous works in the field of classical music are:

The main Gershwin musicals:

Little is known, given the few works for piano, Gershwin wrote is the Gershwin Song Book, also published under the title George Gershwin at the Keyboard, a collection of his best known songs, arranged by himself for piano solo (ISBN 0-7692-5968 - 5). Including inter alia:

  • " The Man I Love";
  • "I'll Build A Stairway To Paradise ";
  • " Fascinating Rhythm ";
  • " Oh, Lady Be Good! ";
  • "I Got Rhythm";
  • " Liza ".


1945 Irving Rapper directed a biography ( Rhapsody in Blue) with Robert Alda as George Gershwin.

Literature (selection )

  • Alan Kendall: George Gershwin. A Biography. Harrap, London, 1987, ISBN 0-245-54332-5.
  • E. Jablonski, L. D. Stewart: The Gershwin Years. 2nd rev. Ed New York 1973.
  • R. Kimball, A. Simon, The Gershwins. New York 1973.
  • Antonio Mingotti: Gershwin - A Pictorial Biography. Kindler, Munich 1958.
  • Hans Peter Krellmann: George Gershwin / Self Certification and image documents. Rowohlt, Reinbek 1997, ISBN 3-499-50418-9.
  • David Ewen: George Gershwin: the success to the size. Hannibal, St. Andrew - Woerdern 1998, ISBN 3-85445-157-1.
  • Walter Rimler: George Gershwin: an intimate portrait. Univ. of Illinois Press, Urbana ( Ill. ) and others 2009, ISBN 978-0-252-03444-2.
  • Howard Pollack: George Gershwin: his life and work. Univ. of California Press, Berkeley (Calif.) u.http :/ / 2007, ISBN 978-0-520-24864-9.
  • Edward Jablonski: George Gershwin: In the mirror of his time. M & T Verlag AG Zurich / St. Gallen 1992, ISBN 3-7265-6026-2
  • Wolfram Schwinger: He composed America: George Gershwin - man and his work. Book Publisher: The morning, Berlin, 1965 printing house up, Leipzig III/18/20 A-660/65.
  • Larry Starr: George Gershwin, New Haven [u a ]: Yale Univ. Press, 2011, ISBN 978-0-300-11184-2