George Gershwin (20th Century Composers)

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9780714835044: George Gershwin (20th Century Composers)

George Gershwin (1898-1937), during his short but prolific career, produced a varied body of work that combined symphonic composition with the musical styles popular in his era, including jazz and Negro spirituals. Known primarily for his jazz-tinged orchestral work Rhapsody in Blue, his folk opera Porgy and Bess, and his many wonderful songs featured in the films of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Gershwin and his lyricist brother Ira were key figures in the songwriting circles of pre-war America. Rodney Greenberg's lively biography paints a vivid picture of this exciting era in the development of American music, and places Gershwin's life and career within the social and cultural contexts in which he flourished.

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Review:

As part of its 20th Century Composers series, Phaidon commissioned noted producer and director of television music programs Rodney Greenberg to write a biography of one of the century's most popular composers--George Gershwin, a man who in a regrettably short life (he died in 1937 at the age of 38) sought to straddle the worlds of popular and symphonic music.

"Music," Gershwin once said, "must reflect the thoughts and aspirations of the people and the time. My people are American. My time is today." Gershwin's life, from his days as a "songplugger" in New York's Tin Pan Alley to fame and fortune with Broadway shows and symphonic composition, followed the evolution of American popular music. But he was as much an influence on his time as he was influenced by it. Charismatic, brilliant, and vastly egotistical, his struggle to be recognized as a serious composer was always at odds with the fame and money such songs as "Fascinating Rhythm" and "Lady Be Good" brought him.

While Greenberg's biography is serviceable as an introduction to the composer's life, his analysis of the music is what raises this elegantly short book to the realm of the exceptional. Gershwin's body of work is surprisingly small, considering its lasting influence, and this gives the author the opportunity to discuss at length not only such landmark works as Rhapsody in Blue and Porgy and Bess, but also minor pieces like "Lullaby" and "Someone to Watch Over Me." Indeed, Greenberg argues that Gershwin's gifts, like those of Cole Porter but also Chopin and Grieg, were best expressed through his shorter compositions, and while he never stopped working to achieve a significant work of length, it was his instinct for 32-bar and shorter pieces that ensured his place in musical history. --John Longenbaugh

About the Author:

Rodney Greenberg has produced and directed over 300 television music programmes, including the televised Promenade Concerts and three documentaries on George Gershwin.

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Rodney Greenberg
Editore: Phaidon Press (1998)
ISBN 10: 0714835048 ISBN 13: 9780714835044
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Descrizione libro Phaidon Press, 1998. Paperback. Condizione libro: New. Codice libro della libreria DADAX0714835048

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Rodney Greenberg
ISBN 10: 0714835048 ISBN 13: 9780714835044
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(Pittsford, NY, U.S.A.)
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Descrizione libro Condizione libro: Brand New. Book Condition: Brand New. Codice libro della libreria 97807148350441.0

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