.. sale of records came more money and commissions. It even enabled him and Ira to purchase a five story brick home for the entire family with its own elevator. George was also able to begin collecting serious art and he even painted his own (Peyser 200). In 1925 Georges Concerto in F was premiered in Carnegie Hall by the New York Symphony Orchestra.
It was his first serious work that consisted of the standard three movement form. This composition established his reputation as a serious composer and helped to spread his popular works to a larger audience . He became the most celebrated composer of the 1920s (Ewen 201). In 1926 Oh Kay was published and dedicated to Kay Swift (Erb). It was most likely George and Iras most outstanding success.
It stared Gertrude Lawrence and featured the songs Someone To Watch Over Me, Clap Your Hands, and Do Do Do. In this production, George transformed ordinary musical material into witty and memorable songs (Adam 22:47). March 9, 1928 George went to Europe for the first time. There George performed Rhapsody in Blue and Concerto in F. With these performances he bought more fame and sophistication to the American composer(Peyser 217).
Both compositions were well received and they led to his acquaintance with esteemed composers like Ravel, Poulenc and Prokofiev. He inquired about becoming a pupil of the infamous classical pianist Nadia Boulanger but she declined and George and Ira returned to America (Rowley). Upon their return, Gershwin had sketched a few melodies that he eventually transformed into An American In Paris. He scored this piece for a standard orchestra and he added three saxophones and four taxi horns (Peyser 227). It was a score rich in color, texture, and jazz techniques. It was described as “.
reflecting the mood of the new world” (Adam 25:25). Serious critics did not care for it but the public loved it and they made it a success. His next two musicals were political satires. Gershwin was not into politics, but he felt by doing a satire it would lift his work from being an ordinary musical comedy. Strike Up The Band was a cynical anti-war story trying to subside the national hysteria (Schwartz 177). Americas national cheese proprietors are at war with Switzerland over the cost of importing Swiss cheese.
It was a wonderful score with whimsical text. Of Thee I Sing was another satire which gave a very harsh look at American life during the Great Depression and looked at the possibility of a dictatorship in the United States. The musical production received a Pulitzer Prize which is something that had never been done before (Adam 37:33). In 1930 George and his brother traveled to Hollywood to score the music for the movie Delicious. After completing the score, Gershwin was discouraged because he had no more influence on it (Peyser 263).
Still he wanted to be a successful film composer so he settled there and went on to write music for three more movies, Damsel In Distress, Galdwin Follies and Shall We Dance (Schwartz 219). In 1931, Gershwin returned to New York and wrote Second Rhapsody . It was premiered by the Boston Symphony with George as the soloist (Rowley). In his opinion, it was the best composition he had ever done (Smith Lecture). So, having an abundance of self-confidence, Gershwin decided to do the one thing he had not done yet, write a full length opera. George had become interested in black culture through the study of jazz.
And after reading the novel Porgy, about a black crippled beggar, he became very excited about the musical possibilities it possessed. So in 1934 he retreated to a small shack in South Carolina and after twenty-one months he had composed Porgy and Bess. (Adam 40:03). This was the first opera ever written encompassing black heritage, jazz and blues. Offers from the Metropolitan Opera House came rolling in but Gershwin refused because they could not promise him a black cast (Gojowy 304). So it made its debut at Bostons Colonial Theater on September 30, 1935 (Schwartz 257).
The New York critics shunned his non-traditional use of jazz and blues in an opera but his audience raved and that was all he cared about. There were some mixed feelings about the black lifestyle being portrayed from a white mans point of view, but it as a unanimous success musically (Adam 45:55). It contained all of the essential ingredients; drama, performance, excitement, communication and talent. The shows future success was guaranteed from the fifteen minute standing ovation it received (Smith Lecture). It was Porgy and Bess that allowed Gershwin to combine his two most passionate loves, popular and serious music. After the grand success of Porgy and Bess, George returned to California. He wanted to go there and relax in the sun and write music the way he wanted to and for no one but himself.
But he was unhappy because the only songs he could write would not suffice for the big screen. He was making plans to return to New York after a series of performances when tragedy struck (Ewen 291). In February, 1937 George was giving a recital in Los Angeles when suddenly his mind went blank. Then a couple of days later he was experiencing dizziness, headaches and he became listless (Schwartz 299). So he was taken to a hospital and shortly after he was diagnosed with a brain tumor.
He called his family and friends and told them that he was going to have it removed and he would be home soon (Adam 50:53). On July 11, 1937 George Gershwin passed away in the middle of surgery to remove the tumor (Erb). The world of music was shocked at the loss of one its greatest composers. He was the most successful composer that had ever come along. He had a passion in his soul that poured out through his music and into the hearts of his listeners.
“Like a rare flower that blossoms once in a while, Gershwin represented an original and rare phenomenon.”–Leonard Bernstein Works Cited Erb, Jane. George Gershwin. 1996. *http://www.jerb.rof.net* (17 March 1998). Ewen, David. A Journey to Greatness.
New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1986. George Gershwin Remembered. Dir. Peter Adam. Writer Peter Adam. Commentary Clarke Peters.
BBC TV, 1987. Gojowy, Detlef. “George Gershwin.” New Grove Encyclopedia of Music. 1980. Peyser, Joan.
The Memory of All That. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1993. Rowley, Eric. George Gershwin “The Early Years.” 1997. *http://www.Chuckever.aol.com* (17 March 1998). Schwartz, Charles. Gershwin: His Life and Music. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1973. Smith, Tony.
“Music History: George Gershwin.” Northwestern State University. Natchitoches, April 1997. Bibliography George Gershwin. 1996. (17 March 1998).
Ewen, David. A Journey to Greatness. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1986. George Gershwin Remembered. Dir. Peter Adam.
Writer Peter Adam. Commentary Clarke Peters. BBC TV, 1987. Gojowy, Detlef. “George Gershwin.” New Grove Encyclopedia of Music. 1980.
Peyser, Joan. The Memory of All That. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1993. Rowley, Eric. George Gershwin “The Early Years.” 1997.
(17 March 1998). Schwartz, Charles. Gershwin: His Life and Music. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1973. Smith, Tony. “Music History: George Gershwin.” Northwestern State University. Natchitoches, April 1997.