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George Gershwin: An Intimate Portrait (Music in American Life) [Hardcover]

Walter Rimler

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Book Description

22 Sep 2009 Music in American Life
George Gershwin lived with purpose and gusto, but with melancholy as well, for he was unable to make a place for himself - no family of his own and no real home in music. In this book, Walter Rimler makes use of fresh sources, including newly discovered letters by Kay Swift as well as correspondence between and interviews with intimates of Ira and Leonore Gershwin. It is written with spirited prose and contains more than two dozen photographs.

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A dynamic, fast-paced biography that has the verve and staccato drive of the composer himself. A fuller, more complex, more humorous, and more vulnerable picture of Gershwin than has yet appeared in print. --Philip Furia, coauthor of The Poets of Tin Pan Alley: A History of America's Great Lyricists

Rimler shines in weaving together anecdotes, correspondence and a wealth of interviews with the composer and his contemporaries to create a vibrant, flesh-and-blood picture of the man and his music in a readable and enjoyable book. --Amanda Borschel-Dan, The Jerusalem Post, 15th Oct 2009

Compact in length and voluminous in its details, Walter Rimler s study of Gershwin is freighted with melancholy an appropriate parallel with Gershwin s own life. Hesitantly regarded by classical music s regard critics, Rimler s Gershwin emerges as a musical drifter, a stylist caught between styles chiefly because he had invented an aesthetic all his own.... The text is laden with psychological asides some seem much more cogent, and as far less melodramatic, than others. Gershwin s relationship with his brother Ira is well presented as a showbiz variant on classical fraternal archetypes. Foils and friends, they were also enemies in a passive, understated fashion.... There are some plum musical discussions in these pages, and enough backstage drama to satiate the anecdote hunters... Gershwin s life was dominated by extreme juxtapositions, and Rimler skilfully brings them to bear on the reader s expectations of Gershwin, the song-and-dance man. --Colin Fleming, Times Literary Supplement, March 26th 2010

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An exceptional book 19 Oct 2009
By Damien Slattery - Published on
Just when you thought there could not be any more material to cover Gershwin's short life (the definitive Howard Pollack book of 2006 is possibly the greatest monument)- out comes this little book by Rimmler, and it opens new doors into the Gershwin world. Rimmler had access to private letters of Gershwin's lover Kay Swift, and they are distilled into the narrative. This book is a master class in economy, the condensing of information is brilliantly executed and cuts right to the core of fact. We fly along at breakneck speed, still managing to stumble over an anecdote or two that had previously been unheard of. This book is a little marvel! I am ranking it up there in the top five of best Gershwin biographies.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible! 26 Jan 2010
By A. C. Hughes - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have long been convinced as a college professor, a choral director and a student of American music that George Gershwin ranks among the greatest if not THE greatest American composer. Mr. Rimler's book is a wonderful synthesis of his life and works and it was an unabated joy to read. I would recommend it to anyone who knows and loves Gershwin as I do or else wants to be introduced to this remarkable man. Thanks, Mr. Rimler for a wonderful read.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars gershwin the greatest . 16 Oct 2009
By Robert J. Murphy - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As an alltime admirerer of the music of George Gershwin, this book was just wonderful. I have read other books on Gershwin, but the detail and directness in the writing is just exceptional. It is also part of the history of American theatre in the early 20th century. Wonderful photos. Highly reccomend this book to anyone who is interested in Broadway & concert music.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An American Master Whose Work Has Aged Well 9 Feb 2010
By Chuck Brooks - Published on
A well written and very readable narrative overview of George Gershwin and his times, with engaging thumbnails of the personalities he was associated with. A master songsmith without any formal musical training, the tunes he crafted cover the heyday of New York City's Tin Pan Alley, to the advent of Broadway musicals, as well as American Jazz and a uniquely American opera. Many of the tunes he wrote are still with us and popular today. The book gives a glimpse of the crafting of popular tunes, often accompanied by his brother Ira as lyricist, where a simple word or surprising musical phrase could make a song a hit. Long before MP3 players and iTunes, songsmiths' lived by royalties based on published sheet music, with the Gershwin brothers being consistent masters at it. Gershwin was working to broaden his appeal and artistic skills, but died before his personal masterpiece, Porgy and Bess, became widely recognized and acclaimed. Gershwin was not alone, and his time included other masters of popular music, entertainment and culture, though few as recognizable as he is today. The book's 173 pages are organized into 21 chapters, with an epilog of the subsequent careers and lives of those closest to him.
5.0 out of 5 stars Music in America 12 Mar 2014
By Sue Ferguson - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
My husband loved this music and wanted to read about the man behind the music.It is among his several book collection
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