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Classical 101

The Genius of George and Ira Gershwin

ONE AUDIO PIECE, UNKNOWN ORIGIN (COPYRIGHT ISSUES?) One hundred years ago, Rosa and Moishe Gershovitz bought an upright piano and had it hoisted into their 2nd Avenue flat on New York City's Lower East Side. They intended to have their oldest son, Israel, take piano lessons. However, when Israel's brother Jacob sat down and began to play some of the popular tunes of the day, it was quickly decided Jacob would receive the lessons. The boy's parents would eventually Americanize their name, so the family became Morris and Rose Gershwin. Their sons, of course, are better known to us as George and Ira. While George was experiencing great early success in his music career, Ira was working odd jobs around town, at least until his brother George asked him to write lyrics for his music. A team was born and musical history would be made. Some of the ongoing legacy of George and Ira Gershwin was heard last week with the Columbus Jazz Orchestra at the Southern Theatre, as Byron Stripling and his crew welcomed singers Capathia Jenkins, who has toured nationally with Dreamgirls, and 2004 Tony Award nominee Michael McElroy to celebrate what many consider George Gershwin's crowning achievement: Porgy and Bess. It ran Wednesday through Sunday at the Southern, and I hope you were able to join me for our live broadcast last Saturday night at 8pm on WOSU radio. If you have never experienced a live Columbus Jazz Orchestra performance, you owe it to yourself to head downtown. I promise you won't be disappointed, In my search for information about the Gershwins, I happened across two interesting pieces.  One is comments Ira Gershwin made about his brother in a 1961 interview. [audio:ira-gershwin-speaks.mp3] The other is a fascinating recounting of how Gershwin made it into the concert hall in the first place by the man who made it happen, Paul Whiteman. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jEgJZ7inUrY