Born: 1898, Brooklyn, New York
Died: 1937, Beverly Hills, California
“Jazz I regard as an American folk music; not the only one, but a very powerful one which is probably in the blood and feeling of the American people more than any other style of folk music.”
Gershwin is the Jazz Age personified. He got his start writing songs for Tin Pan Alley, the designation for New York’s publishers of popular songs. With works like Rhapsody in Blue and the Concerto in F, Gershwin brought jazz into the concert hall. At the same time, with his lyricist brother Ira, he wrote several popular Broadway musicals. In many ways, the opera Porgy and Bess marked the culmination of his achievement, combining his knack for popular songs, his mastery of jazz, and his skill with large-scale composition in a lasting monument to one of the greatest voices in American music.