The Life Of George Gershwin Essay Research

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The Life Of George Gershwin Essay, Research Paper George Gershwin (1898 – 1937) George’s parents emigrated to the USA in the late 1800’s. George’s father, Morris, was trying to avoid a probable twenty year conscription in his native St. Petersburg. Besides that, his hometown sweetheart, Rose Bruskin, had already moved to New York with her family. They are shown here at about the time of their marriage in 1895. George was Morris and Rose’s second son, born on September 26, 1898. Athough Morris had already Americanized the family name from Gershovitz to Gershvin, the doctor still managed to misspell it on the birth certificate. George’s name of record was Jacob Gershwine. George’s brother Arthur was born two years later and his sister, Frankie, followed in 1908.

This house in Brooklyn, New York was the family home where George was born. But the Gershvins didn’t live in this house very long. By the time George was 18 years old, the family had moved 28 times! Morris was an entrepreneur, though not a very successful one. He always wanted to live within walking distance of the family business. His business ventures included a restaurant, bakery, summer hotel, boarding house, bookmaking, cigar store, pool hall, and Russian and Turkish baths. The family did not trust banks, a typical attitude of the period. They kept their money in Rose’s diamond ring. When cash was low one of the boys was entrusted to take the ring to the pawn shop and later redeem it. Though Morris wasn’t the greatest businessman in the world, Rose proudly maintained

that the family always had a maid. This picture shows one of the family maids on an outing with Ira, Rose, George, and baby Arthur. Throughout his life George was outgoing and energetic. As a boy, he did not go in for indoor activity, like reading or music. He was always getting in trouble at school because of his poor grades and misbehavior in class. The teachers sent notes home to his parents, but somehow George usually had the notes intercepted and signed by a neighbor. Once, when a teacher asked to see his parents at the school, George managed to get away with having his brother, Ira, show up for the meeting. George spent most of his time on outdoor games and activities. He was considered the neighborhood roller skating champion. He also excelled at fighting with the other

boys. Once when the family was gathered in the living room of their apartment, the sounds of a fight on the street below had George out the door and in the action within minutes. Though his family and friends did not discern any particular interest in music from young George, years later he told a story of walking past a penny arcade and hearing a pianola playing Anton Rubinstein’s Melody in F. According to George, the music had a profound effect on him, “The peculiar jumps in the music held me rooted.” The boyhood experience that seems to have started George on the road to music came one day when he overheard a fellow student at P.S. 25, Maxie Rosenzweig, perform Dvor k’s Humoresque on the violin. Although George had not attended the recital, he was outside the hall and

couldn’t help hearing the music. It made such an impression on him that he waited outside, in the rain, to meet the performer. Maxie had left by another door, so George walked to his house to congratulate him in person on the performance. Maxie wasn’t home, but his family arranged a meeting later and the two boys became friends. “Max opened the world of music to me,” George said. During their many conversations about music, Maxie encouraged George to try picking out a few tunes on another friend’s piano. Maxie also told George that he had no musical aptitude but, fortunately, that did not discourage George. In 1910 the Gershwins bought a second hand piano on the installment plan for their son, Ira, who had been taking occasional lessons with an aunt. As soon as the