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Sample essay topic, essay writing: George Gershwin - 1610 words
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One of the most influencial composers of the 1920's was George Gershwin. Gershwin was the most celebrated and wealthiest American composers of the 1920's. In this paper I will discuss Gershwin's life as a child and his upbringing and how his music expressed the dreams of every American Citizen by mixing different styles of music like Jewish, black, jazz, classical, blues and put them into one genre and created absolute music.George Gershwin was born in Brooklyn, New York on September 26, 1898. As the son of immigrant parents, Georges father had many jobs, so they were forced to live in many locations. George had two brothers, Arthur and Ira, and one sister, Francis. Although, George was the most well known of the family, his brother Ira was also a successful lyricist.
Also, it was Ira's interest in music that made their parents purchase the first family piano. However, it was George that took the immediate interest in playing the piano. George played by ear before his parents purchased piano lessons for him. George began to study music seriously at the age of twelve.After studying and perfecting his talent, under the guidance of Charles Hambutze, Gershwin was taught proper techniques, lyricism, and harmony. This opened up a the worlds of Chopin, Liszt, Debussy and Schoenberg (Ewen 58-60). Gershwin was offered a job at Remick's Music Publishing House in Tin Pan Alley
Gershwin jumped at the opportunity to become the youngest pianist ever employed at the popular music capital of the world. Gershwin , at the young age of fifteen, quit school and became a song plugger. (Schwartz 21). The purpose of a song plugger was to make a song become a hit. Everyday hundreds of singers and actors came to Tin Pan Alley looking for fresh new materials.
The song pluggers could improvise and transpose a song on the spot to fit a particular singer or actor. Soon, everyone was going to Gershwin to compose music.George Gerswhin 3It wasn't long before Gershwin figured out that he wanted something different in his life, and began composing for himself. In 1916, Gershwin had his first song printed and published. It was this first publication that led to him meeting famous lyricist, Irving Caesar. Gershwin and Caesar decided to work together on a Broadway musical. This was a dream come true for Gershwin, and a major turning point in his life. The Broadway musical was completed in May 1919, and was named La La Lucille.
It was billed as, "a brilliant, up to the minute musical comedy of class and distinction" (Adam 32:19) Although this brought in several job offers, Gerswhin and Caesar decided to work on another project together. It took only ten minutes to compose a song called Swannee. The song was incorporated into the show Sinbad at New York's Winter Garden. The song was such a huge success selling over two million copies of sheet music world wide. Gershwin and Caesar earned each over ten thousand dollars each for their song (Gojowy 303).From 1920-1924, Gerswhin signed on to write the music for a new Broadway musical called the George White Scandals.
This production featured twenty-five Gerswhin tunes. Soon after, he wrote an operetta but was pull out because it didn't fit in, however would be used in later compositions (Schwartz 47). One of the greatest jazz musicians of all time, Paul Whiteman, was so impressed with Gerswhin's use of jazz in the melody, harmony and rhythms, he suggested to him to write a concerto for two piano's to be played at Aeolian Hall under Whiteman's direction. Oddly, Gerswhin forgot about writing the piece until he read an advertisement, which announced the premier of a new composition by George Gershwin. He finished it in two hours (Adam 35:19).
Gerswhin composed the work, which defined his career and elevated him to a new level of success.George Gershwin 4Rhapsody in Blue was the piece that Gerswhin composed. The opening of the composition features a clarinet solo, which trills at the beginning and scales up as high as they can go. Rhapsody in Blue is still one of the favorites pieces played in the United States and worldwide by orchestras and ensembles. Besides Rhapsody in Blue, Gerswhin is known for numerous songs, which have become a part of the American songbook. Most of these were products of his Broadway years. Between the years of 1924-1929 George and his brother Ira teamed up to compose several musicals, including Tip Toes, Oh Kay! , Strike Up The Band, Funny Face, Girl Crazy, and Of Thee I Sing. Despite Gerswhin's success on Broadway, he decide to follow his success with Rhapsody In Blue with a few more pieces for piano and orchestra as well as piano solo, including Concerto in F (1925), Preludes for piano (1926), and An American in Paris (1928). An American in Paris represents the second most popular work for orchestra written by Gershwin.George and Ira headed for Hollywood leaving Broadway behind them.
But they continued to compose numerous scores and songs for the silver screen, including pieces for Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. George's first work for film was the motion picture "The King Of Jazz," featuring music selected by George's old friend Paul Whiteman. The Film, which starred Bing Crosby, included Rapsody in Blue as one of its featured songs.George and Ira were writing songs everyday. The phonograph began replacing piano rolls and this was an added boost to George's fame. With the 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. Gershwin started collecting serious art and also tried his hand at painting.George Gerswhin 5As Gerswhin's fame and wealth spread, so did his social status. He began to appear on everyone's guest list for dinner parties. He became associated with big stars like Gertrude Lawrence, Maurice Ravel and the Astaires. Also, Gershwin started to dress and talk with proper manners so he could fit in with his new group of friends. One friend in particular was Kay Swift.
It is not known how close they were but they spent every moment together and he eventually composed a song for her (Adam 6:19). In 1926 Oh Kay was published and dedicated to Kay Swift. It starred Gertrude Lawrence and featured the songs, Someone to Watch Over me, Clap your Hands, and Do Do Do. In this production, Gerswhin transformed ordinary musical material into witty and memorable songs.During his time in Hollywood, Gershwin did return to the traditional music setting for a few pieces which received little attention at the time they premiered. The Second Rhapsody, which premiered in 1931 and the Cuban Overture, which premiered the next season, never gained the publics attention.
Even perhaps the greatest disappointment of Gerswhin's career, his "American Opera" would close due to small audiences.March 9, 1928 Gershwin went to Europe for the first time and performed Rhapsody in Blue and Concerto in F. These performances brought more and fame sophistications to both George and Ira. Both performances were well received and led the the acquaintance with composers like Ravel, Poulenc and Prokofiev. Upon their return to America, Gerswhin had sketched a few melodies that he eventually transformed into An American in Paris. Gerswhin composed this piece for a standard orchestra and he added three saxophones and for horns. It was described as " reflecting the mood of the new world". Serious critics did not care for it the public loved everything about it, and it became a huge success.George Gerswhin 6The "American Opera," as Gershwin referred to it was Porgy and Bess.
Porgy and Bess dealt with the poverty of the ghettos and their daily lives and loves. The poor attendance at the box office couldn't pay for the cost of the show, closing the show shortly after it opened. Unfortunately, Porgy and Bess, which opened in 1935, became popular only after Gershwin's death in 1937. Today, Porgy and Bess represents one of the first efforts to reflect a minority culture in American life and also is the most successful opera ever written by an American composer. Porgy and Bess still proves to be a success today and has been made into motion pictures and television productions.Gerswhin life met a short and tragic end.
What started as simple headaches became more serious and chronic. Gerswhin started to forget portions of his compositions while performing them, his family and friends encouraged him to see a doctor. Doctors diagnosed him as having a brain tumor and suggested emergency surgery. Unforunately, Gerswhin did not survive the surgery and died on July 11, 1937 in Hollywood California.Ira Gerwhin saved a great deal of George's work and shared it with younger people, including Michael Feinstein, whose recordings include some of Gerswhin pieces. Gerswins compositions are still today being played on mainstream media on a regular basis. Commercials feature Gerswins music regularly.
United Airlines used Rhapsody In Blue for years as its marketing theme. H&R Block recently encouraged their clients to think of their services as "Someone To Watch Over Me." Visa also used "I Got Rhythm" in their marketing theme.Motion Pictures still use Gerswhin's music for their themes and plots. In Mr. Holland's Opus, a student sings the love ballad "Someone to Watch over Me." When Harry Met Sally featured numerous Gerswhin songs, including "Lets call the whole thing off."George Gerswhin 7Gerswhins music is studied by students everywhere. His talents are still gracing the world and his memory lives on through his fans and admirers worldwide.
Gerswhins music will continue to be played and listened to by people worldwide and will continue to be an inspiration to music lovers everywhere.
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