George Gershwin

Essentially self-taught, George Gershwin was first a song-plugger in tin pan alley and an accompanist. in his teens he began to compose popular songs and produced a succession of musicals from 1919 to 1933; the lyrics were generally by his brother Ira. In 1924 he became famous: he wrote "Rhapsody in Blue" as a concerto for piano and Paul Whiteman's jazz band. Its success led him to devote increasing energy to "serious" composition. His more ambitious works include the Piano Concerto in F and the tone poem "An American in Paris". But he continued composing for the musical theater, and some of his most successful musicals date from this period. In 1934-35 he wrote his American folk opera "Porgy and Bess," which draws on African-American idioms. George Gershwin went to Hollywood in 1936 and wrote songs for films. He was a sensitive songwriter of great melodic gifts and did much to create syntheses between jazz and classical traditions in his concert music and black folk music and opera in "Porgy and Bess."