His Life and Work
University of California Press
On Sale: January 15, 2007
Featuring: George Gershwin
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This comprehensive biography of George Gershwin (1898-1937)
unravels the myths surrounding one of America's most
celebrated composers and establishes the enduring value of
his music. Gershwin created some of the most beloved music
of the twentieth century and, along with Jerome Kern, Irving
Berlin, and Cole Porter, helped make the golden age of
Broadway golden. Howard Pollack draws from a wealth of
sketches, manuscripts, letters, interviews, books, articles,
recordings, films, and other materials--including a large
cache of Gershwin scores discovered in a Warner Brothers
warehouse in 1982--to create an expansive chronicle of
Gershwin's meteoric rise to fame. He also traces Gershwin's
powerful presence that, even today, extends from Broadway,
jazz clubs, and film scores to symphony halls and opera houses.
Pollack's lively narrative describes Gershwin's family,
childhood, and education; his early career as a pianist; his
friendships and romantic life; his relation to various
musical trends; his writings on music; his working methods;
and his tragic death at the age of 38. Unlike Kern, Berlin,
and Porter, who mostly worked within the confines of
Broadway and Hollywood, Gershwin actively sought to cross
the boundaries between high and low, and wrote works that
crossed over into a realm where art music, jazz, and
Broadway met and merged. The author surveys Gershwin's
entire oeuvre, from his first surviving compositions to the
melodies that his brother and principal collaborator, Ira
Gershwin, lyricized after his death. Pollack concludes with
an exploration of the performances and critical reception of
Gershwin's music over the years, from his time to ours.
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