In 1919-20 George Gershwin was making a name for himself with Broadway songs and a first show of his own in New York. But he was already attracted to the world of classical music - a world he would enter with a bang in 1924 with his “Rhapsody in blue”. He prepared himself for this by taking an intensive course in composition, during which he wrote this brief “Lullaby” for string quartet as an exercise, probably in 1919. He liked its catchy melody so much that he later used it again in his one-act “jazz opera” “Blue Monday Blues”. “I find the piece charming and kind”, wrote his brother Ira in 1968 when the quartet movement appeared in print for the first time. Thus the world was given a second lullaby by this American composer - one worthy to stand alongside his famous “Summertime” from “Porgy and Bess”.
The most successful composer of musicals in the 1920s, he wrote 28 musicals, largely to lyrics by his brother Ira, and more than 500 songs (including for 23 musicals by others). His fame today is based on his symphonic works and his opera “Porgy and Bess.”
1898 Born Jacob Gershwine into ordinary circumstances in Brooklyn (New York) on September 26.
1912 Piano studies with Charles Hambitzer. The music of Berlin and Kern serves as his model.
1914–17 Employment in Tin Pan Alley as a song plugger for Jerome H. Remick and Company, publishers of popular music. Soon thereafter employed as a rehearsal pianist.
1918 Composer of songs for publisher T. B. Harms.
1919 First Broadway musical “La La Lucille.”
1915–21 Studies theory with Edward Kilenyi, a pupil of Mascagni.
1920–24 Music for the revues “George White’s Scandals.”
1921 Attends summer courses at New York’s Columbia University.
1924 “Rhapsody in Blue” for the band of Paul Whiteman, the then-king of jazz; the musical “Lady, Be Good!”, starring Fred and Adele Astaire, and his first collaboration with his brother Ira, serves as his breakthrough as a composer for theater.
1925 Piano Concerto in F major.
1926 Premiere of the musical “Oh, Kay!”
1926/28 Travels to Europe.
1928 Symphonic poem “An American in Paris.”
1930 Premiere of the musical “Girl Crazy.”
1931 Score for the film “Delicious.”
1935 Premiere of the opera “Porgy and Bess,” today his best-known stage work.
1936 Score for the film “Shall We Dance?”
1937 Death in Los Angeles on July 11.