George and Ira Gershwin

George Gershwin (September 26, 1898 – July 11, 1937) was an American composer and pianist.[1][2] Gershwin’s compositions spanned both popular and classical genres, and his most popular melodies are widely known. Among his best known works are the orchestral compositions Rhapsody in Blue and An American in Paris, as well as the opera Porgy and Bess.

Born in Brooklyn to a Ukrainian father of Jewish descent and a Russian mother, Gershwin studied piano under Charles Hambitzer and composition with Rubin Goldmark and Henry Cowell. He began his career as a song plugger, but soon thereafter started composing Broadway theatre works with his brother Ira Gershwin and Buddy DeSylva. He moved to Paris in an attempt to study with Nadia Boulanger, where he began to compose An American in Paris. After returning to New York City, he wrote Porgy and Bess with Ira and author DuBose Heyward. Initially a commercial failure, Porgy and Bess is now considered one of the most important American operas of the Twentieth Century. Gershwin moved to Hollywood and composed numerous film scores until his death in 1937 from a brain tumor.

Gershwin’s compositions have been used in numerous films and on television, and several became jazz standards recorded in numerous variations. Countless singers and musicians have recorded Gershwin songs.

Ira Gershwin (December 6, 1896 – August 17, 1983) was an American lyricist who collaborated with his younger brother, composerGeorge Gershwin, to create some of the most memorable songs of the 20th century.[1]

With George he wrote more than a dozen Broadway shows, featuring songs such as “I Got Rhythm“, “Embraceable You“, “The Man I Love” and “Someone to Watch Over Me“. He was also responsible, along with DuBose Heyward, for the libretto to George’s opera Porgy and Bess.

The success the brothers had with their collaborative works has often overshadowed the creative role that Ira played. However, his mastery of songwriting continued after the early death of George. He wrote additional hit songs with composers Jerome Kern (“Long Ago (and Far Away)“), Kurt Weill and Harold Arlen.

His critically acclaimed book Lyrics on Several Occasions of 1959, an amalgam of autobiography and annotated anthology, is an important source for studying the art of the lyricist in the golden age of American popular song.[2]

The Congressional Gold Medal was awarded to George and Ira Gershwin in 1985. Only three other songwriting recipients, George M. Cohan, Harry Chapin and Irving Berlin, have had the honor of receiving this award.[37][38]

The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song is an award given at the White House to a composer or performer for their lifetime contributions to popular music. Created in 2007 by the Library of Congress, the prize is named after brothers. George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin, whose contributions to popular music included songs such as “I Got Rhythm,” “Embraceable You,” and “Someone to Watch Over Me,” the orchestral pieces Rhapsody in Blue and An American in Paris, and the opera Porgy and Bess. The first recipient of the award was Paul Simon. Other recipients include Stevie Wonder (2008), Paul McCartney (2009) and Burt Bacharach & Hal David (2011).

To watch a 54 minute video at the White House of the star-studded tribute to the songwriting team of Burt Bacharach & Hal David at the 2011 prize award ceremony CLICK HERE

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