|Leonard Praskins 1940's|
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*Below is just a brief introduction to George Gershwin's life & career:
George Gershwin's parents emigrated from Russia to the U.S.A in 1891. He was born Jacob Gershowitz in Brooklyn, New York, on September 26, 1898. Early on he excelled at street sports in his poor lower east side Manhattan neighborhood and had no early musical contact. His first musical exposure came when a piano was brought to the Gershowitz home for his brother, Ira. George (age 12) took an immediate interest in the instrument and began to play a popular song he had memorized from a neighbor's player piano. His parents invested in lessons for George beginning at age 13. He studied with the American composers Rubin Goldmark, Henry Cowell, and Wallingford Riegger and with the Russian-born composer and theorist Joseph Schillinger. At the age of 15 Gershwin had quit school and was a pianist and "song plugger" for a Tin Pan Alley music-publishing firm, Jerome H. Remick & Company, earning $15 a week.
To supplement his income, on Saturdays, Gershwin recorded piano rolls under various pseudonyms. For his efforts he received $35 for six rolls. He was a great admirer of the comedian Ed Wynn and it was at this time, in honor of him, that Gershwin changed the end of his last name. Gershwin's first song to be published was When you want 'em, you don't get 'em, when you got 'em, you don't want 'em in 1916. It was the success in 1918 of his song Swanee brought him fame, established him as a composer, and marked the end of his systematic study of music. Swanee was originally written for a revue at the newly opened Capitol Theatre. It was not successful on that outing but when presented by Al Jolson in Sinbad it became the greatest hit of Gershwin's entire career. After this, Gershwin continued to be a prolific composer of many famous pieces as well as being ahead of his time musically. He unfortunately died an untimely death in 1937 from a brain tumor at the young age of 39 years old.
Here's the story of George Gershwin in the video below - very interesting to see what life was like in the music business of the early 1900's.
Here actual video below of George playing "I Got Rhythm." Incredible!
The famous "Rhapsody in Blue" performed below by the famous Leonard Bernstein