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George Gershwin

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One of the most influencial composers of the 1920’s was George Gershwin.

Gershwin was the most celebrated and wealthiest American composers of the 1920’s. In

this paper I will discuss Gershwin’s life as a child and his upbringing and how his music

expressed the dreams of every American Citizen by mixing different styles of music like

Jewish, black, jazz, classical, blues and put them into one genre and created absolute

music.

George Gershwin was born in Brooklyn, New York on September 26, 1898. As the

son of immigrant parents, Georges father had many jobs, so they were forced to live in

many locations. George had two brothers, Arthur and Ira, and one sister, Francis.

Although, George was the most well known of the family, his brother Ira was also a

successful lyricist. Also, it was Ira’s interest in music that made their parents purchase the

first family piano. However, it was George that took the immediate interest in playing the

piano. George played by ear before his parents purchased piano lessons for him. George

began to study music seriously at the age of twelve.

After studying and perfecting his talent, under the guidance of Charles Hambutze,

Gershwin was taught proper techniques, lyricism, and harmony. This opened up a the

worlds of Chopin, Liszt, Debussy and Schoenberg (Ewen 58-60). Gershwin was offered a

job at Remick’s Music Publishing House in Tin Pan Alley. Gershwin jumped at the

opportunity to become the youngest pianist ever employed at the popular music capital of

the world. Gershwin , at the young age of fifteen, quit school and became a song plugger.

(Schwartz 21). The purpose of a song plugger was to make a song become a hit.

Everyday hundreds of singers and actors came to Tin Pan Alley looking for fresh new

materials. The song pluggers could improvise and transpose a song on the spot to fit a

particular singer or actor. Soon, everyone was going to Gershwin to compose music.
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It wasn’t long before Gershwin figured out that he wanted something different in his

life, and began composing for himself. In 1916, Gershwin had his first song printed and

published. It was this first publication that led to him meeting famous lyricist, Irving

Caesar. Gershwin and Caesar decided to work together on a Broadway musical. This was

a dream come true for Gershwin, and a major turning po...

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...gery and died on July 11, 1937 in Hollywood California.

Ira Gerwhin saved a great deal of George’s work and shared it with younger people,

including Michael Feinstein, whose recordings include some of Gerswhin pieces.

Gerswins compositions are still today being played on mainstream media on a regular

basis. Commercials feature Gerswins music regularly. United Airlines used Rhapsody In

Blue for years as its marketing theme. H&R Block recently encouraged their clients to

think of their services as “Someone To Watch Over Me.” Visa also used “I Got Rhythm”

in their marketing theme.

Motion Pictures still use Gerswhin’s music for their themes and plots. In Mr.

Holland’s Opus, a student sings the love ballad “Someone to Watch over Me.” When

Harry Met Sally featured numerous Gerswhin songs, including “Lets call the whole thing

off.”
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Gerswhins music is studied by students everywhere. His talents are still gracing the

world and his memory lives on through his fans and admirers worldwide. Gerswhins

music will continue to be played and listened to by people worldwide and will continue

to be an inspiration to music lovers everywhere.
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