The Music of George Gershwin Short Program: June 29 - July 2, 2014

Who among American composers could be more beloved than George Gershwin? In many ways he was our American Mozart. Similarities abound: both composers died tragically young. Gershwin's inoperable brain tumor was discovered only weeks before he died at the age of 39. Both composers had an incredible range of style and tackled almost every available musical genre. Gershwin was trained by classical musicians but really matured as a composer in the commercial world of Tin Pan Alley, the center of the music industry in New York City.

While he became a famous and successful purveyor of popular music, he always yearned to be accepted as a serious composer. By the end of his life he had achieved that ambition.

This Alumni College will offer a brief but comprehensive review of the many sides of this truly brilliant composer. We'll examine his superb songs and blockbuster Broadway shows, along with the Hollywood film musicals to which they belonged. Standards such as "I Got Rhythm," "The Man I Love," and "Someone to Watch Over Me" have been performed by countless popular singers over the decades. We'll also study the groundbreaking "Rhapsody in Blue," still the most often performed classical piece of the twentieth century; the tone-poem "An American in Paris"; his virtuosic Piano Concerto in F; and his full-length folk opera, "Porgy and Bess," the work generally considered to be his masterpiece. As his lyricist brother Ira wrote in one of his songs, "Who could ask for anything more?"

Informing this appreciation will be veteran Alumni College professor Tim Gaylard, former chair of the music department, and Gershwin aficionados Scott Williamson, Amy Cofield Williamson, Rob Mish and Josh Harvey.