Sunday, October 26, 2008

America's Mozart - Views of His Contemporaries

In a previous blog, I had described George Gershwin as America's Mozart, as both had died in their thirties, at the zenith of their powers (what would their zeniths have been like, had they lived on??), with indescribable messages emanating from their languages.
I had been looking for a recording made in 1961, and issued commercially in 1987, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the death of Gershwin, and as I am a staunch proponent of Primary Source, as it pertains to matters historically, I had been in pursuit of this recording for a long period of time; the reasons being that this radio program hosted only those surviving friends who knew Gershwin better than any one else.
To list: Oscar Levant, Alfred Newman, Gershwin's brother Ira, Fred Astaire, Arthur Schwartz, Paul Whiteman, all of whom achieved world-wide recognition in their own right.
Levant, the brilliant pianist who has recorded virtually everything the composer wrote for piano; Newman, one of the most famous conductors of that time in this genre; Ira Gershwin, who formed the immortal fusion with his famous brother by lacing the music with lyrics; Astaire, the legendary dancer, who, incidentally, was an accomplished pianist who played for the composer many times; Schwartz , a powerful composer on Broadway and in Hollywood; Whiteman, the conductor who premiered the Rhapsody in Blue with Gershwin at the piano, with Fritz Kreisler and Sergei Rachmaninoff in the audience.
These geniuses discuss their legendary friend. There are also rare recordings of Gershwin himself at the piano. All in all, the most illuminating example of Primary Source information concerning Gershwin I am aware of.
I was fortunate in finding this LP in a used record outlet about a hundred miles from my home, and in pristine condition. I had it transferred to CD, and it is one of my favorite possessions in recorded form.
I have not had the time to see if it was ever released in CD form. The radio broadcast was titled "Gershwin Remembered", if you would like to look for it.
Good Luck!

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