George Gersh­win: His Life and Work

Howard Pol­lack
  • Review
By – November 16, 2011

It is a pleas­ant impos­si­bil­i­ty for a review­er to do jus­tice to this defin­i­tive biog­ra­phy of Gershwin’s life and work. It is both com­plex and fas­ci­nat­ing, begin­ning with his birth in 1898, through his trag­ic death (at the age of 38) in 1937

Through­out more than 700 pages of analy­sis and doc­u­men­ta­tion, Pol­lack reveals the incred­i­ble vari­ety and scope of the composer’s achieve­ments in every facet of pop­u­lar, the­atri­cal, and clas­si­cal music. The entire his­to­ry of Amer­i­can music from the begin­ning of the 20th cen­tu­ry becomes a part of his sto­ry, as well as of his fel­low com­posers, such as Irv­ing Berlin, Jerome Kern, Aaron Cop­land, and dozens of others. 

Aside from acknowl­edg­ing his debt to pre­vi­ous biog­ra­phers, Pol­lack has drawn from a trove of man­u­scripts, let­ters, inter­views, arti­cles, and recent­ly dis­cov­ered scores to fash­ion an insight­ful glimpse into what made Gersh­win so mem­o­rable. After read­ing this biog­ra­phy it would seem appro­pri­ate to para­phrase one of George and Ira’s songs by singing, It’s very clear…his music’s here to stay.”

Addi­tion­al Reading

Shi­mon Gewirtz is a can­tor, com­pos­er, and play­wright who has lec­tured on Jew­ish music at var­i­ous uni­ver­si­ties and elder­hos­tels around the coun­try. His orig­i­nal songs and trans­la­tions (from both Hebrew and Yid­dish) appear in many antholo­gies. He has a Mas­ters Degree in The­ater Ed. from NYU.

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