Introducing George Gershwin

Feat. the Master himself

Arnold Schoenberg once described George Gershwin as a rare composer “whose feelings actually coincide with those of the average man on the street”, and you couldn't ask for a better nutshell encapsulation of Gershwin's brilliance.

After all, Schoenberg was the composer who tore down centuries of pleasant-on-the-ears tonal harmony and hummable tunes, and replaced them with atonal music that even today many music lovers find difficult to understand or like.

Gershwin was born in 1898 in Brooklyn New York, and died tragically of a brain tumour in 1937. He scored his first musical hit in 1919 with a light song called Swanee. Popular musical after popular musical followed, containing hits such as “The Man I Love”, “Embraceable You”, “Let's Call the Whole Thing Off” and “I got Rhythm”, and he made an extraordinary amount of money on it for the age too; there's an anecdote about him asking Schoenberg for lessons, but when Schoenberg found out that Gershwin was on $100,000 a year, he suggested Gershwin give him lessons! And yet, as that request to Schoenberg shows, Gershwin didn't want to limit himself to show music and light songs. He wanted to write classical music too, and today he stands as one of the few composers ever to have not only conquered the worlds of both commercial and serious classical music, but to to have fused those two worlds together. So it's his “classical” side we're celebrating in this collection; music which brought jazz rhythms, the Blues, and Broadway-style melodies to the classical concert hall.

Curation: Natascha Klotschkoff

Text: Charlotte Gardner

Speaker: Charlotte Gardner

Visual Art: Philipp Nicolai Hertel

  • Introducing George Gershwin

  • An introduction to Gershwin — Rhapsody in Blue

  • Rhapsody in Blue Preview Only

    George Gershwin

    David Greilsammer, Steven Sloane, Orchestre National de France
  • An introduction to Gershwin — An American in Paris

  • An American in Paris Preview Only

    George Gershwin

    Mario Venzago, Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra Amsterdam2011
  • An introduction to Gershwin — Three Preludes

  • Three Preludes Preview Only

    George Gershwin

    Frank Braley2004
  • An introduction to Gershwin — Piano Concerto in F major

  • Piano Concerto in F major Preview Only

    George Gershwin

    Jon Nakamatsu, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Jeff Tyzik2006
  • An introduction to Gershwin, Bennett — Porgy and Bess (Symphonic Picture)

  • Porgy and Bess (Symphonic Picture) Preview Only

    George Gershwin (arr. Robert Russell Bennett)

    James Judd, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra2001

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