George Gershwin was a famous composer of Tin Pan Alley. The first website I went to for him (gershwin.com) opens with a stage and a sample of the music he composed. George dropped out of school at age 15, which is when he pursued his music career but he fell in love with piano at age 11. He was taught by a man named Charles Hambitzer who referred to George as a “genius.” He worked with multiple other teachers such as; Henry Cowell, Wallingford Riegger, Edward Kilenyi and Joseph Schillinger.
When George first started out he was helping singers rehearse, and playing in night clubs. The first song he published was, “When You Want ’Em You Can’t Get ’Em” in 1916. Then in 1920 George worked with Paul Whiteman to produce “Rhapsody in Blue” for a show called “Blue Monday.” His songs remained popular for long periods of time and still are, which classifies his songs as “standards.” Another one of his first hits was called “Swanee,” which was performed by Al Jolson.
In 1924 George began working with his older brother Ira who wrote the music while George composed it and played piano. Both boys were of Russian and Jewish heritage but born in New York. Together they made about two dozen songs and worked with mainly each other. George and Ira made musical comedies which were primarily for Broadway. George also composed for a few films and the New York symphony as well. Some described that they would fill in the holes for each other to make the necessities of a song.
“Porgy and Bess” was considered to be the Gershwin’s biggest achievement which has been played repeatedly in Broadway over many years, and it’s also been made into a film, as well as an opera.
George died at the height of his career in 1937 during surgery to remove a malignant brain tumor, he was only 38. George was in the process of working on “The Goldwyn Follies” in Hollywood when he passed away. His loss was…