Fascinating Rhythm: The Collaboration of George and Ira Gershwin

Fascinating Rhythm: The Collaboration of George and Ira Gershwin

by Deena Ruth Rosenberg
     
 

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The 100th birthdays of George and Ira Gershwin (in 1898 and 1896, respectively) are being celebrated around the world. The centennials are the perfect occasion to reflect on the brothers' rich legacy to American theater music. "The Man I Love," "Fascinating Rhythm," "Someone to Watch Over Me," "A Foggy Day"--together they wrote 700 songs and dozens of shows that

Overview


The 100th birthdays of George and Ira Gershwin (in 1898 and 1896, respectively) are being celebrated around the world. The centennials are the perfect occasion to reflect on the brothers' rich legacy to American theater music. "The Man I Love," "Fascinating Rhythm," "Someone to Watch Over Me," "A Foggy Day"--together they wrote 700 songs and dozens of shows that defined an age and revolutionized the musical theater. Essential to any consideration of their achievement is Deena Rosenberg's Fascinating Rhythm, the only book to closely examine the brothers'extraordinary collaboration.

First published in 1991, this pioneering work--which grew out of extensive interviews with Ira Gershwin and draws on much unpublished material from his archives--provides an interpretation and critical history of the Gershwin opus. Focusing on the major songs and shows and on the creative process that produced them, Rosenberg traces the development of the Gershwins' vocabulary, voice, subject, and viewpoint as they evolved from song to song. She illuminates how words and music work together in each song to create a small one-act play that encompasses a satisfying emotional and dramatic action.

Rosenberg also expertly places the Gershwins in their creative and social context, highlighting their innovations, their own growth as mature artists, and their relationship to their times. And she outlines Ira's productive career following the untimely death of his brother in 1937.

Filled with musical examples, Iyrics, and photographs, this rich portrait will fascinate any musical theater lover.

"Packed with terrific insights that will delight those who care about this music." --New York Times Book Review

Deena Rosenberg is the founding chair of the Musical Theatre Program, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University. A cultural and music historian, she is coauthor of The Music Makers and has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, High Fidelity, and other publications.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The enduring appeal of the music of George and Ira Gershwin has spawned several biographies of the talented brothers who created more than 700 popular songs before George's untimely death at age 39 in 1937--Ira died in 1983 at age 87. But never before has the collaboration itself been the subject of such intelligent and fruitful scrutiny as in this intriguing study. Rosenberg, chair of the musical theater program of the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, has a gift for making scholarly points in accessible, albeit mundane language. Readers require no particular musical background in order to enjoy and respond to her original theories about the connections between George's music and Ira's lyrics. Points of comparison are frequently illustrated with side-by-side measures of music, and the striking thematic relationships between such songs as Embraceable You and The Man I Love are also compared dramatically to George's orchestral composition, including the well-known Rhapsody in Blue. This is a rich feast for music historians, musicians and connoisseurs of musical theater as well as inveterate hummers who like a Gershwin tune. Photos not seen by PW. (Dec.)
Library Journal
This is a splendid examination of the musical-lyrical output of the Gershwin brothers by consummate interviewer Rosenberg ( The Brothers Gershwin: Their Lives & Work Together , Macmillan, 1989), who had the full cooperation of Ira in its preparation. Both a chronological history and an accessible technical explanation of the songs with simplified musical notation, the book is ``Oh, Kay!'' for nonmusicians. If ``It Ain't Necessarily So,'' however, that two songs ending fa-mi-re-do indicate a peculiarly Gershwinesque style, ``Who Cares?'' Readers whose ``Love for the Gershwins Is Here To Stay'' will be grateful for the explanation of blue notes, the explication of the many songs generated from ``Rhapsody in Blue,'' and the glimpses into the early stage careers of the likes of Gertrude Lawrence, the Astaire siblings, and Ethel * Merman. Buy it, read it, and ``Clap Yo' Hands!''-- Bonnie Jo Dopp, Dist . of Co* lumbia P.L.
The New York Times
Packed with terrific insights that will delight those who care about this music. -- The New York Times Book Review

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780472084692
Publisher:
University of Michigan Press
Publication date:
02/01/1998
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
560
Sales rank:
871,761
Product dimensions:
6.01(w) x 8.94(h) x 1.17(d)

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