On This Day

George Gershwin

Composer and Pianist George Gershwin

Profession: Composer and Pianist

United States of America

Why Famous: Of Russian and Jewish heritage, George Gershwin grew up in the tenements of New York to become one of the 20th century's most important composers.

Gershwin worked as a "song plugger" from the age of 15, his first big hit was the song "Swanee" with words by Irving Caesar. He went on to produce the classical work, "Rhapsody in Blue" in 1924, establishing his ability to mix different musical styles, from classical to jazz to popular music.

A number of musicals followed which have become classics including "Funny Face" (1927), "An American in Paris (1928) and "Girl Crazy" (1930), which made a star of Ginger Rogers. Many of his musicals were written with his older brother Ira Gershwin as the lyricist including the opera "Porgy and Bess" which premiered in 1935.

In 1936 Gershwin moved to Hollywood to write music for films. He died of a brain tumor just a couple of years later.

Born: September 26, 1898
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, USA

Generation: Lost Generation
Star Sign: Libra

Died: July 11, 1937 (aged 38)
Cause of Death: Brain herniation with Duret haemorrhages

Articles and Photos

Historical Events

  • 1924-02-12 George Gershwin's "Rhapsody In Blue" premieres at influential concert "Experiment in Modern Music" held by Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra at the Aeolian Hall, NYC
  • 1924-12-01 George and Ira Gershwin's musical "Lady Be Good" premieres in NYC
  • 1925-12-28 George and Ira Gershwin's musical "Tip-Toes" premieres in New York City
  • 1926-11-08 George Gershwin's musical "Oh, Kay" premieres in NYC
  • 1927-11-22 George Gershwin's "Funny Face" premieres in NYC
  • 1928-01-10 George Gershwin, Sigmund Romberg and P. G. Wodehouse's musical "Rosalie" premieres in New York
  • 1928-11-08 George and Ira Gershwin's musical "Treasure Girl" premieres in NYC
  • 1928-12-13 George Gershwin's "An American In Paris" premieres (NYC)
  • 1930-10-14 George Gershwin and Ira Gershin's musical "Girl Crazy" starring Ginger Rogers and Ethel Merman premieres in NYC
  • 1931-12-26 Pulitzer Prize-winning musical play "Of Thee I Sing" by George and Ira Gershwin premieres on Broadway, New York City
  • 1935-09-30 George Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess" premieres in Boston
  • 1935-10-10 George Gershwin's "Porgy & Bess" opens on Broadway NY
  • 1951-08-26 "An American in Paris" with music by George Gershwin, directed by Vincente Minnelli, starring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron premieres in London (Academy Awards Best Picture 1952)