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A Question of Greatness
His Life and Times: 1 2 3
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of his Life & Times
George Gershwin lands a job
as a pianist at a summer resort in the Catskills - at $5/week. Jazz is
the rage in music and
Ragtime Band the most popular
song in the land. Berlin - 10 years his senior - becomes Gershwin's idol
(and will remain so for the rest of his life). Keen on jazz and popular
song, young George also develops an interest in
Yiddish theatre music.
Igor Stravinsky's Rites of Spring causes controversy; Woodrow Wilson delivers the State of the Union address in person to Congress for the first time in 112 years; Camel cigarettes is launched; the first electric refrigerator is marketed; and the NY World prints the first modern C R O S S W O R D PUZZLE.
1914: George drops out of high school, becomes a professional "piano pounder" at the publishing firm of Jerome H. Remick on West 28th St, develops his musical style, and becomes acquainted with Broadway figures, lyricists and songwriters. (At this time, West 28th St. between Broadway and Fifth is lined with music publishers specializing in popular songs and becomes known as Tin Pan Alley. George would sit at the piano and play any Remick song upon request by a patron, or accompany a "song plugger" who would sing the song. He thus becomes an expert improviser and transposer, but with limited music-reading skills.)
World War I breaks out following the assasination in Sarajevo of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary; first brassiere is patented; George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion premieres; Paramount Pictures is established; Charlie Chaplin first appears in Tramp costume.
1915: Off and on for the next 5 years, George takes music theory lessons with violinist-composer Edward Kilyeni who becomes his other mentor.
German U-boat sinks Lusitania; Einstein publishes his General Theory of Relativity; Kafka publishes his Metamorphoses; DW Griffith's Birth of a Nation premieres
1916: Gershwin's name first appears in print as composer - of the song When you want 'em you can't get 'em issued by Harry von Tilzer, lyrics by Murray Roth; he begins recording piano rolls, mostly of other people's music.
Woodrow Wilson is reelected US President; James Joyce publishes Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man Margaret Sanger opens first birth control clinic in Brooklyn; Rasputin is murdered.
1917: Remick's publishes Gershwin's Rialto Ripples (in Joplin's ragtime style); Gershwin sets sights on career as a Broadway composer, finds job as a pianist at Fox's City Theater on 14th St (but soon leaves because he is a poor sight-reader), then becomes rehearsal pianist for the musical Miss 1917 (music by Jerome Kern).
RUSSIAN REVOLUTION!!! Lenin forms Bolshevik government; Victor releases first jazz record - Dixieland Jazz Band, One-step.
1918: Gershwin becomes rehearsal pianist for Kern's Rock-a bye-Baby and for Ziegfeld Follies of 1918; declines Irving Berlin's offer of a job as his musical secretary; meets Max Dreyfus, head of publisher T.B. Harms, who hires him as songwriter, beginning a decade-long relationship with Harms; Ira Gershwin becomes his principal lyricist.
Czar Nicholas II and his family are murdered; WORLD WAR I ENDS!!!;
the first 3-color traffic light is installed in NY; first Tarzan film is released.
1919: Gershwin is commissioned to write music for Broadway show La, La Lucille which runs for 100 performances; writes music for Swanee and is introduced to Al Jolson whose rendition sells 2 million records and 1 million copies of sheet music.
TREATY OF VERSAILLES is signed;Mussolini founds Italian Fascist Movement; jazz becomes popular in Europe; by this year, influenza epidemic kills 20 million people in Europe and Asia; Walter Gropius founds BAUHAUS school of design.
- © GJCajipe/FanFaire
GEORGE GERSHWIN PAGES
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