The George Gershwin Reader

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George Gershwin is one of the giants of American music, unique in that he was both a brilliant writer of popular songs ("Swanee," "I Got Rhythm," 'They Can't Take That Away from Me") and of more serious music, including Rhapsody In Blue, An American in Paris, and Porgy and Bess. Now, in The George Gershwin Reader, music lovers are treated to a spectacular collection of writings by and about Gershwin, with more than eighty pieces of superb variety, color, and depth. There is a who's who of famous commentators: bandleader Paul Whiteman; critics Robert Benchley, Alexander Woollcott, and Brooks Atkinson; fellow composers Irving Bedin, Jerome Kern, Alec Wilder (who analyzes the songs "That Certain Feeling" and "A Foggy Day"), Leonard Bernstein, and the formidable modernist composer Arnold Schoenberg (who was Gershwin's tennis partner in Hollywood). Some of the most fascinating and important writings here deal with the critical debate over Gershwin's concert pieces, especially Rhapsody in Blue and An American in Paris, and there is a complete section devoted to the controversies over Porgy and Bess, including correspondence between Gershwin and DuBose Heyward, the opera's librettist (a series of excerpts which illuminate the creative process), plus unique interviews with the original Porgy and Bess. Sprinkled throughout the book are excerpts from Gershwin's own letters, which offer unique insight into this fascinating and charming man.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Editors Wyatt (executive director, Cape Cod Conservatory of Music) and Johnson (musicology, Syracuse Univ.) have assembled a fascinating collection of articles, biographical reminiscences, reviews, musical analyses, and letters relating to the life and music of George Gershwin. Organized into seven sections that roughly follow the composer's life, the book is designed to supplement previous collections of source material, especially Edward Jablonski and Lawrence Stewart's The Gershwin Years, Jablonski's Gershwin and Gershwin Remembered, Robert Kimball and Alfred Simon's The Gershwins, and George Gershwin, edited by Merle Armitage. Most of the material is being reprinted from the original source for the first time, though several items were previously published in Gershwin books. Other information, such as taped interviews with the original leads of Porgy and Bess, have never before appeared in print. The items range from family members and friends' reminiscences, contemporary comment on Gershwin and his music, letters to and from Gershwin, several articles by Gershwin, and excerpts from books (including a delightful piece by Leonard Bernstein). Controversial aspects of Gershwin's career, such as the genesis of "I've Got Rhythm," the orchestration of concert works after Rhapsody in Blue, and Gershwin's place in American music, are well documented. Including a chronology and a selected bibliography, this excellent compendium is recommended for all libraries.-Bruce R. Schueneman, Texas A&M Univ. Lib., Kingsville Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher

"A fascinating collection of articles, biographical reminiscences, reviews, musical analyses, and letters relating to the life and music of George Gershwin." --Library Journal

"How refreshing and exciting to see once again these surprises--and more--from the Gershwin scrapbooks, archives, private collections (some lost), in one cornucopia; the sweeping life of a wonderful great American master." --Edward Jablonski, historian, co-author of The Gershwin Years--George and Ira

"From early in Gershwin's career his music challenged Americans to rethink their assumptions about composition and performance, nationalism, cultural hierarchy, and the racial divide. Documenting that rethinking process, Wyatt and Johnson's reader also illuminates the life and legacy of one of American music's most charismatic figures." --Richard Crawford, University of Michigan

"A superb source book about a cornerstone figure in American indelible contribution to the very idea of American culture and how it got that way. Letters and pieces by Gershwin himself are prominent, but the book will go anywhere and everywhere to catch a glimpse of his raffish genius in the sunlight.... You get, then, Gershwin from many, if not all sides and seen through a huge variety of lenses."--Buffalo News

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195327113
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 5/25/2007
  • Series: Readers on American Musicians Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 9.20 (w) x 6.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Wyatt is a concert pianist and Gershwin authority who is now Executive Director of the Cape Cod Conservatory of Music. John Andrew Johnson is Assistant Professor of Musicology in the Department of Fine Arts at Syracuse University.

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Table of Contents

Part I: Portraits of the Artist
1. Ira Gershwin: "In person, my brother was a good deal like his music" (1961)
2. Frances Gershwin Godowsky: "George Gershwin Was My Brother" (1962)
3. Kay Swift: "Did you ever feel that composer resembled his music?" (ca. 1970)
4. Oscar Levant: "Variations on a Gershwin Theme" (1939)
5. Verna Arvey: "George Gershwin Through the Eyes of a Friend" (1948)
6. "Gershwin Bros." (1925)
7. Isaac Goldberg: "Childhood of a Composer" (1931)
Part II: The Growing Limelight (1919-1924)
8. George Gershwin: Letter to Max Abramson (1918)
9. Dolly Dalrymple: "Pianist, Playing Role of Columbus, Makes Another American Discovery: Beryl Rubinstein Says This Country Possesses Genius Composer" (1922)
10. George Gershwin: Letter to Ira Gershwin (February 18, 1923)
11. Whiteman Judges Named: Committee Will Decide 'What Is American Music'" (1924)
12. Paul Whiteman and Mary Margaret McBridge: "An Experiment" (1926)
13. Olin Downes: "A Concert of Jazz" (1924)
14. Carl Van Vechten: Letter to George Gershwin (February 14, 1924)
15. James Ross Moore: "The Gershwins in Britain" (1994)
16. Ira Gershwin: "Which Came First?" (1959)
Part III: Fame and Fortune (1924-1930)
17. Philip Furia: "Lady, Be Good!" (1996)
18. Ira Gershwin: Letter to Lou and Emily Paley (November 26, 1924)
19. Alec Wilder: "That Certain Feeling" (1972)
20. Carl Van Vechten: "George Gershwin, An American Composer Who Is Writing Notable Music in the Jazz Idiom" (1925)
21. Samuel Chotzinoff: "New York Symphony at Carnegie Hall" (1925)
22. Lawrence Gilman: "Mr. George Gershwin Plays His New Jazz Concerto" (1925)
23. "Paul Whiteman Gives 'Vivid' Grand Opera; Jazz Rhythms of Gershwin's '135th Street'" (1925)
24. George Gershwin: "Our New National Anthem" (1925)
25. George Gershwin: "Jazz Is the Voice of the American Soul" (1926)
26. George Gershwin: "Does Jazz Belong to Art?" (1926)
27. George Gershwin: "Mr. Gershwin Replies to Mr. Kramer" (1926)
28. Abbe Niles: "The Ewe Lamb of Widow Jazz" (1926)
29. Carleton Sprague Smith: "d'Alvarez-Gershwin Recital" (1927)
30. Allen Forte: "Someone to Watch Over Me" (1990)
31. "George Gershwin Accepts $100,000 Movietone Offer: Fox to Pay That Sum for Film Version of Musical Comedy - Composer Gets Bid of $50,000 for Rhapsody in Blue Rights" (1928)
32. George Gershwin: Letter to Mabel Schirmer (1928)
33. "An American in Paris: Narrative Guide"
34. "Gershwin's New Score Acclaimed"
35. "Fifty Years of American Music ... Younger Composers, Freed from European Influences, Labor Toward Achieving a Distinctive American Musical Idiom"
36. "The Composer in the Machine Age"
37. "'Jazz,' the Critics, and American Art Music in the 1920s"
Part IV: Maturity (1930-1935)
38. Making Music
39. Satire to Music
40. George Gershwin
41. Of Thee I Sing, Kaufman-Ryskind Musical Comedy Satire at the Music Box
42. A Music Master Talks of His Trials
43. From William Grant Still: A Study in Contradictions
44. George Gershwin's 'I Got Rhythm' (1930)
45. The Gershwin Myth
46. George Gershwin as Orchestrator
47. George Gershwin Plays His Second Rhapsody for the First time Here with Koussevitsky and Boston Orchestra
48. Letter to Rose Gershwin
49. George the Ingenuous
50. Letter to Emily Paley
51. Letter to Ira Gershwin
52. The Future of Gershwin
Part V: Porgy and Bess
53. From America's Folk Opera
54. Selected Correspondence
55. George Gershwin Arrives to Plan Opera on Porgy
56. Porgy and Bess, Native Opera, Opens at the Alvin: Gershwin's Work Based on DuBose Heyward's Play
57. Rhapsody in Catfish Row: Mr. Gershwin Tells the Origin and Scheme for His Music in That New Folk Opera Called 'Porgy and Bess'
58. From an Interview by Robert Wyatt
59. From an interview by Robert Wyatt
Part VI: Last Years: Hollywood (1936-1937)
60. Hollywood - An Ending
61. Gershwin Analyzes Science of Rhythm
62. Radio Pays a Debt
63. A Foggy Day
64. Letters to Zenna Hannenfeldt
65. Letters to Mabel Schirmer
66. Letter to Emily Paley
67. Letter to Henry Botkin
68. Letter to Rose Gershwin
69. Letter to Rose Gershwin
70. Letter to Irene Gallagher
Part VII: Obituaries and Eulogies
71. Report in Variety
72. George Gershwin
73. Hail and Farewell: Career and Position of George Gershwin in American Music
74. Poem
75. Tribute
76. Gershwin Left $341,089 Estate to His Mother; 'Rhapsody in Blue' Appraised at 'Greatest Value' and Opera Rights of 'Nominal Interest' to the Residue
77. Letter to Rose Gershwin
Part VIII: As Time Passes
78. Music by Slide Rule
79. Gershwin on Gershwin
80. Gershwin, Schillinger, and Dukelsky: Some Reminiscences
81. Why Don't You Run Upstairs and Write a Nice Gershwin Tune?
82. George Gershwin
83. George Gershwin: yes, the sounds as well as the tunes are his
Selected Bibliography

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