George Gershwin is one of the greatest influences to American music in the 20th century. His compositions can be found throughout the entertainment world, ranging from Broadway to motion pictures. Though he had a short career, George Gershwin's music continues to bring inspiration and delight almost sixty years later. On September 26, 1898 George Gershwin was born to the Gershowitz family as Jacob Gershowitz. The Gershowitzs' were an immigrant family that lived in Brooklyn, NY at the time. His parents, Morris and Rose, were Russian immigrants that owned a restaurant. George was the second of four children with older brother Ira, younger sister Francis, and younger brother Arthur. Over time, George accepted being called Gershwin instead
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Rhapsody in Blue was used in the movie, "The King of Jazz." He also wrote the song Blah-Blah-Blah for the movie "Delicious." At this time, George and Ira's musical Girl Crazy was remade to fit the silver screen as well as having his music in the film "Shall We Dance." All of these Hollywood successes occurred between about 1930 and 1937, during which Gershwin also composed Second Rhapsody and Cuban Overture.
Although Gershwin had many successes, he also had failures. The most notable of these failures was his play Porgy and Bess. It was about life in the African-American ghettos of the United States. Gershwin even required the cast to be all black, one of the reasons why it is not produced often since it is hard to find an all black cast. Although it became popular many years later, Porgy and Bess was not liked by critics and audiences alike so it was closed after only a short showing.
Gershwin died when he was only thirty-nine years old on July 11, 1937. However, during this time, he created many pieces that continue to inspire audiences in pop, classical, and jazz. He was a major factor in the development of the first distinctly American music, jazz by helping turn the struggling movement of the poor into the mainstream musical market. Gershwin did this by making jazz serious enough to be accepted, as demonstrated with the performance of Rhapsody in Blue, a jazzy piece performed by a major orchestra at a black tie affair.