by Robert Russin (1972), George Gershwin, Composer.
was a very normal boy - he was the undisputed roller-skating champion
of his neighborhood on the lower East side of New York. He even
felt that youngsters who went in for music were sissies. But one
day a young violinist, Max Rosen, played for his fellow classmates
at PS 25. George had not been interested enough to attend the
performance, but heard it through the assembly hall window. Gershwin
later wrote: "It was, to me, a flashing revelation of beauty."
the world of music to George, and George taught Max wrestling.
One climactic day, his friend told George that he had better give
up all thoughts of a musical career, saying "You haven't it in
you; take my word for it." Fortunately for American music, George
ignored his friends advice.
wrote his first songs while working as a pianist with a music
publishing firm; and his first revue Half Past Eight opened in
tragically did not live to be 40, but his music will live forever.
He was equally at home writing "pop" tunes, such as Swanee, The
Man I Love, 'S Wonderful, and I Got Rhythm; musical comedies like
Oh Kay, Girl Crazy, and Of Thee I Sing; serious music: Rhapsody
in Blue, Concerto in F, and An American in Paris; and he even
pioneered in creating a genuine American folk opera: Porgy and
Bess. Most of the lyrics for his revues and songs were written
by his brother Ira (1896-1983).
in Blue, commissioned by Paul Whiteman as a "jazz symphony," made
jazz respectable for the American concert stage after it was performed
in New York in 1924 ... and it made Gershwin famous. In less than
two decades of productivity, George Gershwin left an indelible
impression upon his country's culture.