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The George Gershwin Reader (Readers on American Musicians) Paperback – 1 May 2007


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Reading (Evan Rapport, Music and Letters)

About the Author

Robert Wyatt is a concert pianist and Gershwin authority who is now Executive Director of the Cape Cod Conservatory of Music. John Andrew Johnson is Assistant Professor of Musicology in the Department of Fine Arts at Syracuse University.

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Amazon.com: 7 reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Both informative and enjoyable reading 26 Jan. 2004
By F. Behrens - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Having four biographies of George Gershwin (GG) already in my collection, I wondered if something called "The George Gershwin Reader" would be of any value. I needn't have wondered! Reading it cover to cover has been one of the more pleasant tasks I have encountered as a reviewer.
This Oxford University Press book retails for $30. Edited by Robert Wyatt and John Andrew Johnson, it is organized into eight sections: Portraits of the Artist, The Growing Limelight (1919-1924), Fame and Fortune (1924-1930), Maturity (1930-1935, Porgy and Bess, Last Years: Hollywood (1936-1937), Obituaries and Eulogies, and As Time Passes. There are 83 reading selections in all. Some are contemporary reports, essays, letters, biographies; some are backward looks written since the composer's death.
In short, this can be used as a sourcebook for those studying various aspects of Gershwin's life and works (practically the same things) or read for pure enjoyment. My favorite anecdote that so wonderfully reveals the innocent egotism of GG is the story told on pp. 181-182 about a remark he made to composer Harry Ruby and his reaction to being reminded of it two years later. Priceless.
Each selection is introduced by the editors, who give background information about what is to be discussed and the persons involved. There is no dearth of negative criticism about GG's "classical" compositions; and they have even included one which states that Gershwin could not have written the music attributed to him. (The implication is that no Jewish composer could have done that well, a strong echo of Wagner's identical claim, and then contradicted by the writer's claiming the music is bad anyway!)
This OUP book is the very model of what a "reader" should be-and teachers and students of the history of American music, I will be making great use of the information therein.
Need I add, Highly Recommended?
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Nice attempt, but it's been done more colorfully before 31 Jan. 2005
By Ted Levy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Certainly this is a worthy effort in the realm of Gershwin scholarship, and received deserved attention with an unusually long Gershwin piece, citing articles reprinted in this book, that appeared in the New Yorker magazine on Jan. 10, 2005. Nevertheless, readers should be aware that in 1998--and still available on Amazon--the first book to reprint these amazing primary-source articles by Gershwin and his associates, contemporaries, critics, etc., was published: GERSHWIN IN HIS TIME. Its focus was to provide an overview using original sources and writers (including both Gershwins, DuBose Heyward, Alexander Woolcoot, Olin Downes, Paul Whiteman, Brooks Atkinson, and other critics; also reprinting newspaper and magazine reviews of the major Gershwin symphonic and theatrical productions) of ONLY the contemporary accounts of the composer's works, as they were written and premiered.
In addition this was and is the first and only full-color book on Gershwin, and it augments the articles with page after page of reproductions of original sheet music, programs, magazine art, photos, posters, and pertinent memorabilia, all published during the composer's lifetime. It would be a shame not to acknowledge the groundbreaking nature of this first book to present the contemporary materials of Gershwin's life and career. Readers who are fascinated by this subject, and would like to see color visual counterparts to the original articles, are encouraged to seek out a copy of GERSHWIN IN HIS TIME.
However, readers should understand that the new GERSHWIN READER expands on the materials in GERSHWIN IN HIS TIME by also including significant letters by the composer and his associates, as well as criticism and discussions of the works by authorities and fellow composers in the years following Gershwin's death in 1937--extremely important materials, and a must for anyone interested in all of the 20th century's opinions of the composer. GERSHWIN IN HIS TIME remains valuable as a scrapbook of contemporary accounts and color images that present a complete "you-are-there," year-by-year (1919-1937) overview of Gershwin's career and works.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Gershwin to the core 24 Feb. 2005
By Jon Hunt - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As compiled by Robert Wyatt and John Andrew Johnson, George Gershwin springs to life in this book as much as his music. Told from the inside out, the authors allow Gershwin, his contemporaries and those who followed him to create a picture of the composer and how he lived and breathed music every day. This is a beautiful book.

Chief among the contributions in "The George Gershwin Reader" are letters between Gershwin and those with whom he came into contact. We read Gershwin's letters describing how he composed, reactions from him to those who challenged his compositions (especially questions about his own orchestrations) and his eternal boyishness as he wrote friends and family regarding his daily pleasures. His early demise only strengthened the views of so many that Gershwin was a musical genius and that he, more than any other composer, captured the essence of America in transition between the two world wars.

Although "The George Gershwin Reader" can occasionally get overly detailed in musical theory, the pages flow easily. The brief summaries that the authors give before each numbered entry are most helpful for explanation in setting the stage for what ensues. The timeliness of Gershwin's life mirrored by these entries is the authors' best contribution.

It is easy to see why, more than eighty years after George Gershwin's first big success, "Rhapsody in Blue", his music has so long endured and is so endeared. This book is a great tribute to Gershwin and one I hope other readers will enjoy thoroughly.
A Must Read For Any Gershwin Fan 6 Mar. 2010
By Walter Rimler - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is a must-read for any fan of Gershwin's music and anyone who wants to know more about the man. The items have been brilliantly selected. Some of my favorites: a description of Gershwin by his sister, a magazine article from 1939 by Oscar Levant in which the famous musician/wit gives a perceptive and anecdote-filled portrait of his friend, and a letter by Gershwin to his mother written just prior to his death. Probably most interesting of all are interviews conducted by Robert Wyatt with Todd Duncan (the first Porgy) and Anne Brown (the first Bess). In these interviews, the two singers, speaking from the vantage point of more than fifty years, talk with candor and affection about the George Gershwin they knew.
Gershwin's music does not date. 22 Nov. 2013
By Joe Neustatl - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book includes a lot of correspondence of G.G.,
it's most informative of Georg's private life. It will appeal to most Gershwin lovers.
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