George Gershwin



  • (1898 - 1937) US composer of Broadway musicals, often withhis brother, Ira Gershwin (1896 - 1983), as lyricist.

    Born in Brooklyn the son of Jewish-Russian immigrants, Gershwinfirst worked in a music publishing house. In 1919 his song 'Swanee'became highly successful as sung by Al Jolson: that sameyear he also wrote his first Broadway show, La La Lucille.From 1920 to 1924 Gershwin contributed music to five editions of GeorgeWhite's Scandals, including such well-known songs as 'SomebodyLoves Me'. After working with several lyricists, Gershwin collaboratedwith his brother Ira on the the successful jazz-orientated Lady,Be Good! in 1924. Encouraged by this success, they rapidly produceda string of musicals, including: Oh, Kay! (1926), FunnyFace (1927), Strike Up the Band (1927), and Girl Crazy(1930).

    In 1931 the Gershwin brothers wrote Of Thee I Sing,which won the Pulitzer Prize for drama. Four years later they presentedPorgy and Bess, a 'folk opera' written in the jazz idiomfor Black singers. Their last musical collaboration, Porgy andBess was not a financial success during George Gershwin's lifetime.Since then it has acquired immense popularity and the status of amodern classic. Following George's death in 1937, Ira produced thelyrics for only another three shows.