Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Gershwin's Legacy

I stumbled across this article on George Gershwin while reading the Arts & Letters Daily. This, by the way, is a fine website filled with all sorts of interesting articles, essays, book reviews, and editorials. George Gershwin's life is summarized in this New Yorker article. Its really an amazing biographic article which sheds a little bit more light onthe creator of such masterpieces as “Swanee”, “Tee-Oodle-Um-Bum-Bo", and of course "Rhapsody in Blue." For those to lazy to click the link above, I'll include a small excerpt from the article.

Didn’t you play anything when you were a boy?” the reporter asked. To which the composer replied, not without pride, “Only hooky.” Gershwin credited his unlikely achievement to “the combination of New York, where I was born, and the rising, exhilarating rhythm of it, with centuries of hereditary feeling back of me.”

He had been saved by the piano. On a fateful day in 1910, a secondhand upright was hoisted through the family’s Second Avenue window and, to general shock, scapegrace street-fighting George, age twelve, sat down and tore through a popular tune like a vaudeville virtuoso. He had never studied a note. Many years later, Gershwin recalled the musical epiphanies of his early childhood: sitting transfixed outside a penny arcade as an automatic piano emitted noises that turned out to be Rubinstein’s “Melody in F”; feeling a “flashing revelation of beauty” when the strains of Dvorák’s “Humoresque” reached him from the school auditorium while he was, in fact, outside playing hooky. But now a piano had flown in through his window like an angel on a mission—which is as good a way as any of explaining how he could play. “Studying the piano made a good boy out of a bad one,” he informed an interviewer in 1924. “I was a changed person after I took it up.”


Jim said...

Rhrapsody In Blue. Enough said.