George Gershwin


Born: September 26th, 1898 in Brooklyn, NY
Died: July 11th, 1937 (at age 39) in Los Angeles, CA
Nationality: American
Fields: classical and popular music
Famous For: “Rhapsody in Blue,” “Porgy and Bess” and “An American in Paris.”
Awards: Inductee of the Long Island Music Hall of Fame, Congressional Gold Medal

George Gershwin was born on September 26th, 1898 in Brooklyn, New York. He lived in New York throughout his childhood. George and his older brother, Ira, often visited the Yiddish Theater District, which is where they made friends and acted as extras on the stage. George had a typical childhood, hanging out with his friends and two other siblings that were born several years after him and his brother.

Regular childhood changed for George when he reached the age of 10. This is when he heard a violin recital played by his friend, Maxie Rosenzweig. Soon after this, George went through several piano teachers before he met Charles Hambitzer. Hambitzer was George’s mentor from the time they met up until he passed away in 1918. He taught George all that he knew about the piano and also took him to concerts to see live music.


Gershwin attended school up until he reached the age of 15, which is when he got a job at Jerome H. Remick and Company. At this job he was a song plugger, which involved publishing songs. In 1916 Gershwin got a job recording and arranging music at Aeolian Company and Standard Music Rolls. By the 1920’s he was working with a music director named William Daly, who quickly became one of his best friends.

Gershwin also created a jazz opera with Buddy DeSylva named “Blue Monday.” After this, he worked with his brother Ira to create a musical comedy. “Lady Be Good” ended up being extremely popular and followed by many other musical comedies created by the two. They also created “Show Girl,” “Girl Crazy” and “Of Thee I Sing.”

In 1924 Gershwin worked with Ferde Grofe to create his first major piece of classical work, which debuted in New York. “Rhapsody in Blue” was and still is one of his most famous works. Gershwin moved to Paris after this and worked with many different professionals who taught him about history, different styles of music and composition. In 1928 he moved back to New York and composed music for the movie “Delicious.”


After working briefly in Hollywood, Gershwin created the composition “Porgy and Bess,” which is now regarded as an American classic. Because this was a failure when it was released, Gershwin decided to move to Hollywood, California. He started working for RKO Pictures to create music for the movie “Shall We Dance.” Unfortunately in 1937 Gershwin started experiencing severe headaches.

Although he continued to work in Hollywood during this time, the symptoms he was experiencing quickly took over his mood and life. After being rushed to the hospital on July 19th, 1937, Gershwin fell into a coma. Doctors found a brain tumor, which took his life a few days later on July 11, 1937. Gershwin was only 38 years old when he passed away.