Author Topic: Gershwin's Galligaskins  (Read 19637 times)

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kristopaivinen

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Gershwin's Galligaskins
« on: May 15, 2008, 08:27:54 AM »
I have the feeling that George Gershwin does not enjoy a very high appreciation among the classical music audience. This goes both to the traditional music enthusiasts, who dismiss him as not being a serious composer, and the proponents of new music, many who flat out hate him. I however find him to be a horrendously underappreciated composer, deserving much more popular appeal and academic respect. I find there has been no greater lyrical genius since Schubert, when he composed his late piano sonatas. Take An American in Paris or Porgy and Bess, for instance, and tell me why these works don't have been met with more admiration. What do you think; does Gershwin really possess the genius I see in him, or am I perhaps just guilty here of defending a personal pleasure of mine?

PS. What is the best recording of American in Paris? I really love the Gene Kelly movie version, and I'm looking for a recording just like that, but in original arrangement.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2008, 08:29:51 AM by kristopaivinen »

Offline Brewski

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Re: Gershwin's Galligaskins
« Reply #1 on: May 15, 2008, 08:54:54 AM »
Gershwin is always welcome in my home, and while I might not classify him as a "genius," I think he's a great composer.  A few years ago I saw an excellent production of Porgy and Bess at Opera Company of Philadelphia, which just confirmed the beauty of the whole score.  And below are two of my favorite Gershwin recordings.  Chailly and Cleveland do an electrifying Cuban Overture, but Levine's with Chicago is pretty "wow," too.

Edit: to address your An American in Paris query, both of these below are excellent; it depends on which couplings you prefer.  Chailly's has the sparkling Labèque sisters in Rhapsody in Blue, but Levine has the "Catfish Row" suite from Porgy

The last recording is one I just got a few days ago, with Anne-Marie McDermott and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, with Justin Brown conducting. 

--Bruce
« Last Edit: May 15, 2008, 09:06:35 AM by bhodges »
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lukeottevanger

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Re: Gershwin's Galligaskins
« Reply #2 on: May 15, 2008, 09:01:28 AM »
I have the feeling that George Gershwin does not enjoy a very high appreciation among the classical music audience. This goes both to the traditional music enthusiasts, who dismiss him as not being a serious composer, and the proponents of new music, many who flat out hate him.

not Finnissy - his Gershwin arrangements are truly gorgeous, and his most accessible music. They are evidence of a great love of and respect for Gershwin's music.

Mark G. Simon

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Re: Gershwin's Galligaskins
« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2008, 09:03:21 AM »
I enjoy Gershwin's concert works a great deal. He died too soon to really develop his genius to the fullest, and his orchestral works have definite structural flaws, but there's so much to love about what he wrote that it seems trivial to hold those flaws against him. It's easy to overlook the many ingenious orchestral passages in Porgy and Bess (such as the fight music in the first scene) because of the great tunes. The great tunes came naturally to him, but it's a tribute to his discipline that he made the effort to really learn how to compose, and he kept his distinctive musical personality intact. Latter day composer wannabes like Paul McCartney and Billy Joel ought to learn from his example.

Offline Brewski

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Re: Gershwin's Galligaskins
« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2008, 09:07:26 AM »
not Finnissy - his Gershwin arrangements are truly gorgeous, and his most accessible music. They are evidence of a great love of and respect for Gershwin's music.

Right!  I have three CDs of Finnissy's Gershwin arrangements...fantastic stuff.  Edit: this one below, by pianist Nicolas Hodges (no relation to me  ;D), is marvelous.

--Bruce
« Last Edit: May 15, 2008, 09:48:25 AM by bhodges »
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Offline The new erato

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Re: Gershwin's Galligaskins
« Reply #5 on: May 15, 2008, 09:39:13 AM »
I bought all of the Nonesuch Gershwin albums when they appeared:





(there are 5 I think, I have them all), and think it a pity that this series were terminated!

kristopaivinen

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Re: Gershwin's Galligaskins
« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2008, 09:55:53 AM »
I can't help but to think that the majority of post-Webernian modernists, including their intellectual supporters, act as if Gershwin doesn't exist. Liking Gershwin is probably what Boulez or Stock-Housen would consider to be a mental defect.

Offline Guido

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Re: Gershwin's Galligaskins
« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2008, 10:06:21 AM »
I can't help but to think that the majority of post-Webernian modernists, including their intellectual supporters, act as if Gershwin doesn't exist. Liking Gershwin is probably what Boulez or Stock-Housen would consider to be a mental defect.

They might say the same about Vaughan Williams, or Britten or Shostakovich or any other 'conservative' that you could care to mention... Don't let it bother you!
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Offline Brewski

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Re: Gershwin's Galligaskins
« Reply #8 on: May 15, 2008, 10:07:29 AM »
Well, there are plenty of us who like Gershwin and Boulez and Webern and Stockhausen!  I see no reason not to like all of them.  :D

--Bruce
"Do you realize that we're meteorites; almost as soon as we're born, we have to disappear?"

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Twitter: @BruceHodgesNY

Joe Barron

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Re: Gershwin's Galligaskins
« Reply #9 on: May 15, 2008, 10:12:14 AM »
Not to be a wet blanket, because I do love Gershwin, but I find that, for me, his concert works are better in memory than in fact. The melodies are so good and stick in the mind so well, that as time goes by, I forget just how clunky the full pieces are in places. Then I go back and listen again, and am reminded. Then, with the melodies in my head, I forget again ...

These thoughts don't apply to the song books, which include some of the best tunes ever written by an American, or anybody. I have been painstaking working my way through them in piano for severl years.

And, for the record, I don't recall any post-Webern modernist ever having a bad thing to say about Gershwin. The only person I can recall making a criticism is Leonard Bernstein who hardly falls into that category. I assume Bernstein had a professional axe to grind, since he tried to fill much the same concert niche as Gershwin did and felt overlooked in comparison.   

Offline The new erato

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Re: Gershwin's Galligaskins
« Reply #10 on: May 15, 2008, 10:13:37 AM »
Well, there are plenty of us who like Gershwin and Boulez and Webern and Stockhausen!  I see no reason not to like all of them.  :D

--Bruce
So true. Add Lehar as well. And Dylan, et al.....And I pity those who miss either.

Offline Guido

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Re: Gershwin's Galligaskins
« Reply #11 on: May 15, 2008, 10:25:13 AM »
Well, there are plenty of us who like Gershwin and Boulez and Webern and Stockhausen!  I see no reason not to like all of them.  :D

--Bruce

Exactly.
Geologist.

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karlhenning

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Re: Gershwin's Galligaskins
« Reply #12 on: May 15, 2008, 10:26:33 AM »
No Dylan for me, thanks.

And Dylan ain't no Gershwin, anyway  8)

Mark G. Simon

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Re: Gershwin's Galligaskins
« Reply #13 on: May 15, 2008, 10:32:41 AM »
I can't help but to think that the majority of post-Webernian modernists, including their intellectual supporters, act as if Gershwin doesn't exist. Liking Gershwin is probably what Boulez or Stock-Housen would consider to be a mental defect.

No, no. They figure if Schoenberg liked him enough to play tennis with him, then he must be alright.

Plus Berg and Gershwin were very cordial with each other. Berg welcomed Gershwin into his house, and after Gershwin expressed some trepidation about playing his popular songs after hearing Berg's rendition of the Lyric Suite, Berg reassured him "it's all music". Plus Gershwin sat next to Elliott Carter at the American premiere of Wozzeck (according to Joe). There's some modernist creds for you.

Shortly before his death, Gershwin was telling people that his next opera would use the 12-tone system. I can't say whether he would have made good on that promise.

Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Gershwin's Galligaskins
« Reply #14 on: May 15, 2008, 10:58:52 AM »
Wife & I are BIG FANS of American popular song from the first half of the 20th century - Gershwin, Kern, Arlen, Rodgers & Hart, and so many others - have the complete Ella Fitzgerald Songbooks, if you like vocals - all, including Gershwin, are excellent.

Plenty of orchestral offerings, many already recommended - an excellent value 2-CD set is on the budget DG label below - CLICK on the image for contents; also, just purchased the Dorati performances w/ the Detroit SO of Porgy & Bess Symphonic Picture & Grand Canyon Suite - a smashing recording!

Some solo piano & small group piano discs that might also be of interest that I've enjoyed for many years, also below (but may be OOP?) -  :D

 

 

kristopaivinen

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Re: Gershwin's Galligaskins
« Reply #15 on: May 15, 2008, 11:50:26 AM »
No, no. They figure if Schoenberg liked him enough to play tennis with him, then he must be alright.
Ironically, this is the main reason why I picked up Gershwin in the first place. Without Schoenberg's relationship to Gershwin, I would probably never have cared much for the latter. I was very suprised myself about how much I came to like Gershwin.

I'm not familiar with Jerome Kern and others. My library has a very poor selection of American music; only one Gershwin musical and probably even no complete musicals by Kern or Berlin.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2008, 11:53:05 AM by kristopaivinen »

Joe Barron

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Re: Gershwin's Galligaskins
« Reply #16 on: May 15, 2008, 01:44:10 PM »
Plus Gershwin sat next to Elliott Carter at the American premiere of Wozzeck (according to Joe). There's some modernist creds for you.

Carter himself has told this story many times. He was about 21 when Wozzeck premiered in the U.S. and had not written anything yet, but he had not yet fallen under the Boulanger's neoclassical influence, either. Unfortunately, by his own admission, he was very shy and couldn't get up the courage to say anything to Gershwin.

He also attended one of the first performances of the Rhapsody in Blue in 1924, when he was 15, though sources differ whether it was the very first or one of the repeats. 

Offline Josquin des Prez

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Re: Gershwin's Galligaskins
« Reply #17 on: May 15, 2008, 02:53:29 PM »
Gershwin is most definitely NOT under appreciated. If anything, he's more popular then he deserves.

Mark G. Simon

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Re: Gershwin's Galligaskins
« Reply #18 on: May 15, 2008, 03:12:36 PM »
Carter himself has told this story many times. He was about 21 when Wozzeck premiered in the U.S. and had not written anything yet, but he had not yet fallen under the Boulanger's neoclassical influence, either. Unfortunately, by his own admission, he was very shy and couldn't get up the courage to say anything to Gershwin.

It's such a great story, I'd want to tell it all the time if it happened to me. Just the idea of seeing Gershwin and Carter together in the same room is cool enough, but then to have them sitting next to each other in a theater watching one of the landmark 20th century operas, complete with Nelson Eddy in the role of the drum major ... it just puts a smile on my face.

Joe Barron

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Re: Gershwin's Galligaskins
« Reply #19 on: May 15, 2008, 04:14:15 PM »
Gershwin is most definitely NOT under appreciated. If anything, he's more popular then he deserves.

Nah, he certainly deserves his popularity.