George Gershwin, American Master: His Life and Music
Orin Grossman – Fairfield University – $89 for the 2 class series.
Each class will be presented from 11:00am – 12:30pm ET
Saturday, June 12: Part 1
Saturday, June 19: Part 2
A link for viewing will be sent to you 1 day before the first class.
George Gershwin (1898-1937) was a true rarity in American music—someone at home both in popular and classical, or concert, music. He is beloved both for his amazing collection of songs that help define the Great American Songbook and for his brilliant compositions that draw on the American experience to create such masterpieces as An American in Paris, Porgy and Bess, and Rhapsody in Blue. Coming of age in the 1920’s, Gershwin is one of a handful of artists—F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway come to mind—who both personify the energy and complexity of the “Jazz Age” 1920’s and also still speak to us today. Each of these two presentations will include performances of his music in Gershwin’s own piano arrangements—some rarely heard today.
Presentation 1: George Gershwin’s Broadway
The 1920’s saw the creation of a new American spirit on Broadway. Inspired by Jerome Kern’s Princess Theatre shows of the late teens, a new, young group of composers and lyricists threw off the European trappings of former shows and created the American Musical. Brassy and irreverent, these shows featured such composers and lyricists as Rogers and Hart, Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields, Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, and, of course, George and Ira Gershwin. This presentation examines some of George Gershwin’s greatest songs from the 1920’s—songs that continue to live today. The songs will be heard in Gershwin’s own piano arrangements—arrangements Gershwin created to give the public a sense of how he played his own songs at private parties.
Presentation 2: Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, an American masterpiece
It was Gershwin’s special contribution to create concert works from melodies and rhythms that reflect the popular music of his day— Broadway ballads, ragtime, Latin dance rhythms, and the Blues. This presentation will demonstrate just how this process works in his first and most popular concert work, Rhapsody in Blue. By understanding the musical sources of this most beloved of American concert pieces, we gain insight into the multicultural nature of American musical traditions, and into the compositional genius of one of our greatest composers. The lecture will conclude with a performance of Gershwin’s great masterpiece.
Orin Grossman is renowned internationally for his knowledge of music. He lectures and performs concerts throughout the US and Europe, he teaches Performing Arts at Fairfield University, and has served as the University’s Academic Vice President. Professor Grossman has been particularly associated with the music of George Gershwin, performing concerts of his song transcriptions and classical pieces to critical praise around the world, including performances in Cairo and New York. Professor Grossman was also chosen to play for the New York City Mayor’s Awards of Honor for Arts and Culture.