Today is George Gershwin's birthday. Born on Sept. 26, 1898, he left our world on July 11, 1937 at the
age of 38. He left us with music that brightens our lives whenever and whenever it is played. The son of Russian immigrants he began playing the piano at the age of 11 when his parents bought a second-hand piano for his older brother, Ira--who became a brilliant lyricist.
A school dropout at 15, he began playing in New York night clubs and as a song plugger in Tin Pan Alley and he kept studying music with noted piano teachers. He worked as a rehearsal pianist for Broadway performers and had his first song published in 1916, titled "When You Want 'Em, "You Can't Get 'em." He wanted to study with Ravel but Ravel turned him down saying,"Why do you want to be a second rate Ravel when you are a first rate Gershwin?"
Gershwin wrote hit after hit with brother Ira. A motion picture starring Janet Gaynor and all time favorites for Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. He wrote for Ethel Merman's Broadway debut titled "Girl Crazy," and Of Thee I Sing--a political satire. His opera, Porgy and Bess just received another production, and his "Rhapsody in Blue," and "American in Paris," continue to bring joy to music lovers everywhere.
Stories are told of him sitting down at a piano and performing at every party. If there is a heaven, I'm sure he's playing right now.