George Gershwin (1898 – 1937)

George Gershwin Photo yb Carl Van Vechten licensed under creative commons

George Gershwin Photo by Carl Van Vechten licensed under creative commons

Born Jacob Gershwine in Brooklyn on 26 September 1898. He changed the spelling of his name after becoming a professional musician.

In 1924 Gershwin composed his first classical piece ‘Rhapsody in Blue’, however he had already started his career in musical theatre and had a growing back-catalogue.

While staying for a short time in Paris Gershwin composed ‘An American in Paris’, which was first performed in Carnegie Hall in 1928. Despite initial mixed reviews it has become one of his most well-loved pieces. Orchestra Vitae will perform An American in Paris at St. John’s Smith Square on October 29th 2013.

Gershwin first worked with Fox Film Corporation in 1929 when he was contracted to compose the score for the movie ‘Delicious’. However , only two of his pieces made the final film, which resulted in Gershwin refusing to work with Fox Film for seven years.

In 1936 he was commissioned by RKO ( what is this?) to compose the score for ‘Shall we Dance’ starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The score marries Jazz with Ballet and took him several months to write and orchestrate.

In June 1937 Gershwin died of a brain tumour, having had it misdiagnosed several times.

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