Cover image for The George Gershwin reader
The George Gershwin reader
Wyatt, Robert, 1948-
Publication Information:
New York : Oxford University Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
xiv, 354 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm.
Portraits of the artist -- The growing limelight (1919-1924) -- Fame and fortune (1924-1930) -- Maturity (1930-1935) -- Porgy and Bess -- Last years : Hollywood (1936-1937) -- Obituaries and eulogies -- As time passes.
Electronic Access:
Table of contents
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ML410.G288 G47 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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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, inThe George Gershwin Reader, music lovers are treated to a spectacular celebration of this great American composer. The Reader offers a kaleidoscopic collection of writings by and about Gershwin, including 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 musicians Irving Berlin, 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 writingshere 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 Hayward, the opera's librettist (aseries of excerpts which illuminate the creative process), plus unique interviews with the original Porgy and Bess--Todd Duncan and Anne Brown. Sprinkled throughout the book are excerpts from Gershwin's own letters, which offer unique insight into this fascinating and charming man. Along with adetailed chronology of the composer's life, the editors provide informative introductions to each entry. Here then is a book for anyone interested in American music. Scholars, performers, and Gershwin's legions of fans will find it an irresistible feast.

Author Notes

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

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. IX
Introductionp. XI
I Portraits of the Artistp. 1
1 Ira Gershwin: "In person, my brother was a good deal like his music" (1961)p. 3
2 Frances Gershwin Godowsky: "George Gershwin Was My Brother" (1962)p. 3
3 Kay Swift: "Did you ever feel that a composer resembled his music?" (ca. 1970)p. 6
4 Oscar Levant: "Variations on a Gershwin Theme" (1939)p. 7
5 Verna Arvey: "George Gershwin Through the Eyes of a Friend" (1948)p. 20
6 "Gershwin Bros." (1925)p. 25
7 Isaac Goldberg: "Childhood of a Composer" (1931)p. 27
II The Growing Limelight (1919-1924)p. 37
8 George Gershwin: Letter to Max Abramson (1918)p. 39
9 Dolly Dalrymple: "Pianist, Playing Role of Columbus, Makes Another American Discovery: Beryl Rubinstein Says This Country Possesses Genius Composer" (1922)p. 41
10 George Gershwin: Letter to Ira Gershwin (February 18, 1923)p. 42
11 "Whiteman Judges Named: Committee Will Decide 'What Is American Music'" (1924)p. 44
12 Paul Whiteman and Mary Margaret McBride: "An Experiment" (1926)p. 45
13 Olin Downes: "A Concert of Jazz" (1924)p. 49
14 Carl Van Vechten: Letter to George Gershwin (February 14, 1924)p. 52
15 James Ross Moore: "The Gershwins in Britain" (1994)p. 52
16 Ira Gershwin: "Which Came First?" (1959)p. 57
III Fame and Fortune (1924-1930)p. 63
17 Philip Furia: "Lady, Be Good!" (1996)p. 65
18 Ira Gershwin: Letter to Lou and Emily Paley (November 26, 1924)p. 72
19 Alec Wilder: "That Certain Feeling" (1972)p. 75
20 Carl Van Vechten: "George Gershwin, An American Composer Who Is Writing Notable Music in the Jazz Idiom" (1925)p. 77
21 Samuel Chotzinoff: "New York Symphony at Carnegie Hall" (1925)p. 82
22 Lawrence Gilman: "Mr. George Gershwin Plays His New Jazz Concerto" (1925)p. 85
23 "Paul Whiteman Gives 'Vivid' Grand Opera; Jazz Rhythms of Gershwin's '13th Street'" (1925)p. 87
24 George Gershwin: "Our New National Anthem" (1925)p. 89
25 George Gershwin: "Jazz Is the Voice of the American Soul" (1926)p. 91
26 George Gershwin: "Does Jazz Belong to Art?" (1926)p. 94
27 George Gershwin: "Mr. Gershwin Replies to Mr. Kramer" (1926)p. 98
28 Abbe Niles: "The Ewe Lamb of Widow Jazz" (1926)p. 101
29 Carleton Sprague Smith: "d'Alvarez-Gershwin Recital" (1927)p. 102
30 Allen Forte: "Someone to Watch Over Me" (1990)p. 103
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)p. 107
32 George Gershwin: Letter to Mabel Schirmer (1928)p. 108
33 Deems Taylor: "An American in Paris: Narrative Guide" (1928)p. 110
34 Olin Downes: "Gershwin's New Score Acclaimed" (1928)p. 112
35 George Gershwin: "Fifty Years of American Music...Younger Composers, Freed from European Influences, Labor Toward Achieving a Distinctive American Musical Idiom" (1929)p. 114
36 George Gershwin: "The Composer in the Machine Age" (1930)p. 119
37 Mary Herron Dupree: "'Jazz,' the Critics, and American Art Music in the 1920s" (1986)p. 123
IV Maturity (1930-1935)p. 131
38 George Gershwin: "Making Music" (1930)p. 133
39 Robert Benchley: "Satire to Music" (1930)p. 137
40 John Harkins: "George Gershwin" (1932)p. 138
41 Arthur Ruhl: "Of Thee I Sing, Kaufman-Ryskind Musical Comedy Satire at the Music Box" (1931)p. 143
42 "A Music Master Talks of His Trials" (1932)p. 145
43 Catherine Parsons Smith: From William Grant Still: A Study in Contradictions (2000)p. 147
44 Richard Crawford: "George Gershwin's 'I Got Rhythm' (1930)" (1993)p. 156
45 Allan Lincoln Langley: "The Gershwin Myth" (1932)p. 172
46 William Daly: "George Gershwin as Orchestrator" (1933)p. 175
47 Olin Downes: "George Gershwin Plays His Second Rhapsody for the First Time Here with Koussevitsky and Boston Orchestra" (1932)p. 177
48 George Gershwin: Letter to Rose Gershwin (June or July 1932)p. 178
49 Alexander Woollcott: "George the Ingenuous" (1933)p. 179
50 George Gershwin: Letter to Emily Paley (1934)p. 184
51 George Gershwin: Letter to Ira Gershwin (1935)p. 185
52 Frederick Jacobi: "The Fumre of Gershwin" (1937)p. 186
V Porgy and Bessp. 191
53 Joseph Swain: From "America's Folk Opera" (1990)p. 193
54 George Gershwin and DuBose Heyward, Selected Correspondence (1932-1934)p. 201
55 "George Gershwin Arrives to Plan Opera on Porgy" (1933)p. 211
56 Brooks Atkinson and Olin Downes: "Porgy and Bess, Native Opera, Opens at the Alvin: Gershwin's Work Based on DuBose Heyward's Play" (1935)p. 213
57 George Gershwin: "Rhapsody in Catfish Row: Mr. Gershwin Tells the Origin and Scheme for His Music in That New Folk Opera Called 'Porgy and Bess'" (1935)p. 217
58 Todd Duncan: From an Interview by Robert Wyatt (1990)p. 221
59 Anne Brown: From an interview by Robert Wyatt (1995)p. 228
VI Last Years: Hollywood (1936-1937)p. 237
60 Edith Garson: "Hollywood-An Ending" (1938)p. 239
61 Isabel Morse Jones: "Gershwin Analyzes Science of Rhythm" (1937)p. 244
62 Nanette Kutner: "Radio Pays a Debt" (1936)p. 246
63 Alec Wilder: "A Foggy Day" (1972)p. 250
64 George Gershwin: Letters to Zenna Hannenfeldt (1936)p. 251
65 George Gershwin: Letters to Mabel Schirmer (1936-1937)p. 254
66 George Gershwin: Letter to Emily Paley (1937)p. 259
67 George Gershwin: Letter to Henry Botkin (1937)p. 260
68 George Gershwin: Letter to Rose Gershwin (1937)p. 261
69 George Gershwin: Letter to Rose Gershwin (1937)p. 263
70 George A. Pallay: Letter to Irene Gallagher (1937)p. 263
VII Obituaries and Eulogiesp. 269
71 Report in Variety (1937)p. 271
72 Arnold Schoenberg: "George Gershwin" (1938)p. 273
73 Olin Downes: "Hail and Farewell: Career and Position of George Gershwin in American Music" (1937)p. 274
74 Irving Berlin: "Poem" (1938)p. 278
75 Jerome Kern: "Tribute" (1938)p. 279
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" (1938)p. 280
77 Ira Gershwin: Letter to Rose Gershwin (1937)p. 281
VIII As Time Passesp. 285
78 "Music by Slide Rule" (1944)p. 287
79 Ira Gershwin: "Gershwin on Gershwin" (1944)p. 289
80 Vernon Duke: "Gershwin, Schillinger, and Dukelsky: Some Reminiscences" (1947)p. 289
81 Leonard Bernstein: "Why Don't You Run Upstairs and Write a Nice Gershwin Tune?" (1955)p. 293
82 Duke Ellington: "George Gershwin" (1973)p. 300
83 Wayne Shirley: "George Gershwin: yes, the sounds as well as the tunes are his" (1998)p. 301
Chronologyp. 369
Selected Bibliographyp. 325
Creditsp. 333
Indexp. 335