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A Salute to Ira and George Gershwin

Evening Lecture/Seminar

Thursday, July 15, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. ET
Code: 1M2145
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George Gershwin, 1937, by Carl Van Vechten (cropped)

Ira was known as “The Jeweler,” a songsmith whose exquisite craftsmanship allowed him to embed a seamless mosaic of words within the contour of a melodic line. And when his brother George sat at the piano, an endless assortment of tunes came dripping from his fingers.

From their first hit in 1918, “The Real American Folk Song (Is a Rag),” along with immortal blockbusters like “I Got Rhythm,” “Embraceable You” and “The Man I Love,” to the heart-wrenching “Love Is Here to Stay,” a song left unfinished by George’s death in July 1937, the brothers' legacy of over two dozen scores for Broadway and Hollywood helped establish musical comedy as an American art form.

Their relationship was unique among songwriting teams. As siblings, best friends, and business associates, they chose to live together for their entire lives: Only a moment was needed to spark their combined genius. This unique energy generated by mutual love and respect—as well as the fusion of disparate sets of talents—created a distinctive style of music that propelled a generation of listeners through the Jazz Age and soothed them during the Great Depression.

American music specialist and Gershwin scholar Robert Wyatt reviews the lives of the Gershwin brothers, from their simple roots, through their Tin Pan Alley apprenticeship, to the glory years that were too short. Through original cast recordings, film clips, interviews, intimate home movies, correspondence, and other primary materials from the Library of Congress, Museum of the City of New York, and the Rare Documents Collection of the New York Public Library, learn about the lives of these American music icons and revel in their music that still resonates with audiences today.

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