In 1936, George Gershwin (1898-1937) had just moved back to Hollywood following two long years of serious work on his opera, Porgy and Bess. It must have been a welcome relief following the artistic stress brought on by Porgy to get to work scoring the seventh movie pairing Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Shall We Dance. The score for the movie includes "Walking the Dog," a little number Gershwin wrote for chamber orchestra to accompany the scene on an ocean liner where Fred conspires to meet Ginger during the passenger-dog-walking-hour on the deck of the ship. While the musical material is anything but serious (a gentle promenade accompaniment to a jazzily carefree clarinet melody), Gershwin managed to compose music that makes something as simple as two people walking their dogs seem like the most exquisitely choreographed ballet. This is serious fun.
- Ryan Dorin is a pianist and composer.