George Gershwin
Guy Lochhead, 05/09/10
Versatile American composer of music that spanned Broadway, popular song and the concert hall. Many of his pieces have become jazz standards. He took his influence from a wide range of sources – vaudeville, jazz, African-American folksong, French composers, and theorists like Arnold Schoenberg. He is best known for his musical ‘Porgy and Bess’, and orchestral suites like ‘Rhapsody In Blue’. Gershwin is a controversial figure. ‘Porgy and Bess’ can be seen as a groundbreaking work that shook the opera world into accepting black singers, or as a perpetuation of poor African-American stereotypes. His music can be seen as a distillation of a wide range of influences, or as a dilution of what makes those elements important. Either way, he is a talented composer who managed to marry innovation with popularity. To me, Gershwin as an individual is not worth including, but ‘Porgy and Bess’ is definitely worth writing about individually, if only to dismiss in detail..

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