|born on||26 September 1898 at 11:09 (= 11:09 AM )|
|Place||Brooklyn (Kings County), New York, 40n38, 73w56|
|Timezone||EST h5w (is standard time)|
|Astrology data||03°35' 20°37 Asc. 06°06'|
American composer, famous for show tunes, swing rhythms and his unique style of blending commercial pop, jazz and blues music with classical structure. He composed over 700 pop songs including "I Got Rhythm," "The Man I Love," "They Can't Take That Away From Me," and "Nice Work If You Can Get It." His serious works include the opera "Porgy and Bess," and the American classic "Rhapsody in Blue."
Jacob Gershovitz was the second son of the four children (Ira, Jacob, Arthur and Frances) born to Morris and Rose Gershovitz, immigrants who fled to the New World escaping the pogroms of Czarist Russia. While Morris's original trade was the shoe business, his manifold business ventures of billiard parlors, cigar stores, Turkish baths, turf accounting and, finally, a restaurant kept the family on the move. In a peripatetic life style they occupied more than 25 different apartments in Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan. A hyperactive child and truant student, Gershwin's first introduction to music occurred at age six when he heard Anton Rubinstein's "Melody in F" floating out of a music store. Four years later, the hooky-playing lad heard violin prodigy Max Rosensweig (later concert violinist Max Rosen) from the window of the school assembly that he chose not to attend and decided he wanted to be his accompanist. When family friends purchased a player piano, the transfixed boy learned to play the instrument by copying key depressions produced by the scroll. At age 11 his mother purchased a piano for his bookworm brother Ira but, as soon as the piano was placed against the wall, it was George who immediately climbed on the stool and played song after song to his parents' astonishment. Scholarly Ira went back to his books, and Mother Rose invested in musical instruction for academically wayward but talented George. After rapidly turning over four piano teachers, Gershwin settled on Charles Hambitzer, who turned the tide of the boy's musical awareness by making him conscious of harmony.
Gershwin attended Commerce High School in Manhattan, training to be an accountant in his dad's restaurant, but left at 16 when he was hired to play the piano for ten hours a day on Tin Pan Alley. His first break came three years later when his song "Swanee" made a star out of singer Al Jolson. Moving on to Broadway, he wrote scores for revues and musical comedies, notably "Lady Be Good," "Strike Up The Band," "Girl Crazy" and "Of Thee I Sing." During this time Gershwin enrolled in Columbia University, where he studied Nineteenth Century Romanticism in Music and Elementary Orchestra, filling his "tune books" with, ideas, song, and musical composition.
Orchestra leader Paul Whiteman was presenting a jazz concert on 2/12/1924 entitled "An Experiment in Modern Music" at Aeolian Hall in New York. A press release went out announcing that pianist George Gershwin would compose a special piece for his orchestra, an announcement that caught Gershwin unaware. Nevertheless, the amiable young composer agreed to write a piece entitled "An American Rhapsody" and was given three weeks to complete it. Brother Ira, now Gershwin's lyricist, suggested the title "Rhapsody in Blue" after hearing the proliferation of minor notes in his brother's experimental composition, a piece that, according to George, would be a "musical kaleidoscope of America - of our vast melting pot...our blues, our metropolitan madness." The name stuck, the piece was finished on schedule, and the concert began.
"An Experiment in Modern Music" proved to be a somewhat tedious evening. Even before the final experimental piece was performed, the weary audience began making its way toward the exit when suddenly, the shrill wail of an enthralling clarinet wafted over the theater, mesmerizing the stunned concert-goers back to their seats. The following cascade of notes, crescendos and contrapuntal contrasts resulted in a sound that was never heard before, holding all its listeners spellbound. When the final chord was played, the audience, including Serge Rachmaninoff, John Philip Sousa and jazz pianist Willie "The Lion" Smith, rose in a response one writer called "wild and even frantic." Musical history was made that evening. So was 25-year-old George Gershwin. One music scholar wrote years later that Rhapsody in Blue" was "very much to music what Lindbergh's flight across the Atlantic was to transportation... It was an extraordinary event that bridged the gap between classical and popular music."
The now famous Gershwin went on to compose "Concerto in F" in 1925 followed by "An American in Paris" in 1928. Not all music critics appreciated Gershwin's avant-garde tactics of placing automobile horns in the orchestra to emulate the sound of a busy Paris boulevard, but Gershwin, ever the trendsetter, constantly sought to employ new techniques of implementing sound. "All I've got is a lot of talent and plenty of chutzpah." When he approached French composer Maurice Ravel to ask if he would accept him as a student, Ravel replied, "Why do you want to be a second-rate Ravel when you're a first-rate Gershwin?" His success took him to Hollywood in the early '30s, where he composed the score for the film musicals "Girl Crazy" and "Funny Face" in 1932, followed by the "Goldwyn Follies," released in 1938. His masterpiece, American opera "Porgy and Bess" was a serious box office failure, yet was later revived to packed houses.
Gershwin was a high-strung gadabout whose creative energy was indefatigable. He was known to play the piano for hours at celebrity gatherings, then retire home to write music throughout the night. "When I'm in my normal mood, music drips from my fingers." While he never married, a steady stream of liaisons were wined and dined, one of which allegedly resulted in an illegitimate son whom Gershwin supported, but never acknowledged. When he learned that one of his paramours had suddenly married someone else, his response was "If I weren't so buy I'd be upset." In addition to his continuous composing, his pastime was portrait painting in watercolors. A chronic sufferer of indigestion, depression and a string of mysterious physical symptoms, he saw a psychiatrist five days a week at one point, who diagnosed that his inexplicable maladies were due to stress and overwork.
During a performance of "Concerto in F" in Los Angeles on 2/11/1937, Gershwin's fingers stiffened and his mind went blank, resulting in repeated mistakes. A medical check-up soon after gave him a clean bill of health, after which he busily courted actress Paulette Goddard. By June, incapacitating headaches, prolonged dizzy spells and the loss of his sense of smell put him on sedation and, to ensure greater privacy, he moved from his rooms in the Beverly Hills home of Ira and his wife and took up residence with lyricist E. Y. Harburg.
On the morning of 2/09/1937 Gershwin was playing the piano as usual, but later that afternoon fell into a coma and was rushed to a Los Angeles hospital. Analysis of a spinal tap indicated a malignant brain tumor and surgery was performed on 7/10/1937. He died at 10:35 AM the same day.
- associate relationship with Heyward, DuBose (born 31 August 1885)
- associate relationship with Whiteman, Paul (born 28 March 1890)
- sibling relationship with Gershwin, Ira (born 6 December 1896)
- Work : Published/ Exhibited/ Released 12 February 1924 in New York ("Rhapsody In Blue" performed for first time)
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- Work : Published/ Exhibited/ Released 1925 (Composition, "Concerto In F")
- Work : Published/ Exhibited/ Released 1928 (Composition, "An American In Paris")
- Work : Published/ Exhibited/ Released 1932 (Compositions, "Girl Crazy" and "Funny Face")
- Health : Acute illness 11 February 1937 in Los Angeles (Mind blank and stiff fingers during performance)
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- Health : Medical procedure 10 July 1937 in Los Angeles (Surgery to remove malignant brain tumor)
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- Death by Disease 11 July 1937 at 10:35 AM in Los Angeles (Brain tumor, age 37)
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- Work : Published/ Exhibited/ Released 1938 (Composition, "Goldwyn Follies")
Mark Edmund Jones quotes Augusta Wiley, "verified," in "Guide to Horoscope Interpretation." (Same in Sabian Symbols No.384. Marion March quotes the time in a biography as 11:00 AM. Huggins in "The Astrology Magazine" gives 11:15 AM LMT. The time may have been rectified from an original 11:00 AM.)
- Traits : Personality : Creative (Creative energy indefatigueable)
- Traits : Personality : Hard worker
- Diagnoses : Body Part Problems : Brain (Malignant and fatal tumor)
- Diagnoses : Body Part Problems : Headaches, severe
- Diagnoses : Body Part Problems : Ears (Dizzy spells)
- Diagnoses : Body Part Problems : Nose (Loss of smell)
- Diagnoses : Body Part Problems : Bladder (Chronic indigestion)
- Diagnoses : Body Part Problems : Surgery (To remove malignant brain tumor)
- Diagnoses : Psychological : ADHD (Hyperactive as a child)
- Diagnoses : Psychological : Depression
- Family : Childhood : Order of birth (Second of four)
- Family : Childhood : Sibling circumstances (Lived with brother Ira, his lyricist)
- Family : Relationship : Married late/never (Never)
- Family : Parenting : Hardship - Little money (Supported illegitimate son, but never acknowledged)
- Family : Parenting : Kids 1-3 (One)
- Lifestyle : Work : Work alone/ Singular role
- Lifestyle : Social Life : Hobbies, games (Portrait painting in watercolors)
- Lifestyle : Home : Many moves (25 different apartments as a kid)
- Vocation : Entertain/Music : Composer/ Arranger (Composed over 700 pop songs)
- Vocation : Entertain/Music : Conductor
- Vocation : Entertain/Music : Instrumentalist (Piano)
- Notable : Extraordinary Talents : For Music
- Notable : Famous : Top 5% of Profession
- Notable : Book Collection : American Book