George Gershwin

Fun Facts

  • Gershwin never attended a music conservatory; his musical instruction came from private teachers.

  • Gershwin was born in New York City to a Russian Jewish immigrant family.

  • As a child, Gershwin was not interested in music until he attended a friend's violin recital at the age of ten.

  • The piano teacher who took 14-year-old Gershwin on as a pupil believed that the boy was a genius.

  • Leaving school at age fifteen, Gershwin took a job as a piano player in "Tin Pan Alley," and was soon considered one of the finest there.

  • Gershwin's first big hit, Swanee, was composed in 10 minutes on a bus.  It would go on to sell a million sheet music copies and around two million records.

  • When he once lost some music he had been writing, Gershwin wasn't troubled. "There is plenty more where that came from," he said.

  • Gershwin went to Paris to study music, but was turned down by Nadia Boulanger, Maurice Ravel, and others, who believed that rigorous classical study would ruin his style.

  • Gershwin collaborated with his brother Ira to write many songs and several hit musicals. George wrote the music and Ira wrote the lyrics.

  • Gershwin's famous Rhapsody in Blue was written in a hurry.  Gershwin played the piano with the orchestra at the first performance.

  • Though he enjoyed dating, Gershwin never married.

  • Although Gershwin's Porgy and Bess was originally a box office flop, it is now regarded as one of the most important American operas of the 20th century.

  • Gershwin was an talented painter.

  • Gershwin owned a home in Hollywood and composed music for many films.

  • Gershwin's Summertime is recognized as one of the most covered songs in the history of recorded music, with more than 33,000 covers by various bands, ensembles and individual musicians.

  • When Gershwin approached composer Igor Stravinsky about studying with him, Stravinsky insinuated that perhaps he should study with Gershwin!

  • Gershwin started experiencing strange symptoms and health issues, but by the time it was finally discovered that he had a brain tumor, it was too late.  He died at the age of 38, just hours after the tumor was surgically removed.

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Fun Facts

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