America and the Gershwins

 

George and Ira Gershwin – by Al Hirschfeld

The Wall Street Journal is running a music commentary piece on Ira Gershwin, “Ira Gerswhin at 125.” It’s a short piece on his contribution to the Great American Songbook, particularly apt on the 80th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.  The Second Great War shaped our cultural understanding, perception, and celebrations as Americans, proving an optimism and steeled determination that we shared and embraced.

If the WSJ piece is an overarching celebration of Ira’s birth, this poignant post by @ejhill from October 2020, offers a more touching, relatable window into what we take for granted when consuming entertainment, especially from the brilliant minds of our cultural geniuses. They acquire their inspiration from depths not often known to us; thoughts and feelings kept secret by the architects even as the art they create is exposed to the world.

At our church this past Sunday, our congregation held a special service in remembrance of Pearl Harbor. The World War II veterans that regularly attend are quickly waning in number. Frailty, transportation, and COVID complications keep many at home but does not stop those who remain from carrying in their hearts and prayers their legacy of selfless service, sacrifice, and honor. If you have time, please read EJ’s piece. Pause and remember the day that inspired millions of young men and women to join the fight for freedom — against evil —  in a moment that is fading from the collective memory of Americans as quickly as those brave men are slipping from this earth.

I reflect on the love of country and the love of a brother that inspires such a call to action – or to bittersweet creation, that is being swallowed by the archives of history. It is brought out every so often like an antique watch: dusted off and inspected and wondered at that it ever existed in the first place. But it still works, we just have to keep it wound and polished, ready to pass on to the next generation.

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  1. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Thank you for this lovely tribute, Jenna, and for reminding us of EJ’s poignant post. 

    • #1
  2. JennaStocker Member
    JennaStocker
    @JennaStocker

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Thank you for this lovely tribute, Jenna, and for reminding us of EJ’s poignant post.

    Thank you, Susan. EJ’s post has stayed with me for a while and I thought it worth revisiting.

    • #2
  3. Sandy Member
    Sandy
    @Sandy

    I missed EJ’s piece the first time around so thank you for bringing it to life again. 

    • #3
  4. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    Still my favorite musicians after 80 years.  I heard him before I could even talk as my father played Gerswhin when home alone.  My brother and I  didn’t count.

    • #4
  5. Eugene Kriegsmann Member
    Eugene Kriegsmann
    @EugeneKriegsmann

    When I hear the name Gershwin I immediately think of my favorite pieces, Porgy and Bess, An American in Paris, and the phenomenal Rapsody in Blue. I have had those in my vinyl collection for more than 50 years and in my iTunes library since that became a thing. I listen to them frequently.

    • #5
  6. JennaStocker Member
    JennaStocker
    @JennaStocker

    Eugene Kriegsmann (View Comment):

    When I hear the name Gershwin I immediately think of my favorite pieces, Porgy and Bess, An American in Paris, and the phenomenal Rapsody in Blue. I have had those in my vinyl collection for more than 50 years and in my iTunes library since that became a thing. I listen to them frequently.

    I’d say you have impeccable taste!

    • #6
  7. Eugene Kriegsmann Member
    Eugene Kriegsmann
    @EugeneKriegsmann

    Somewhere back in the 1960s my father photographed John Bubbles. He had recently done a recording of Porgy and Bess with William Warfield and Leontyne Price. It was called the “dream cast recording.” He gave my father that LP, and I immediately claimed it. I have never heard a version of that opera that was better. Bubbles was Sportin’ Life, Warfield was Porgy, and Price sang Bess. That vinyl was played so often during the succeeding years that it doesn’t quite have the fidelity it once possessed, but every so often I pull it out and listen to it, like sipping a really fine old cognac. 

    I have always loved Leonard Bernstein’s recording of American in Paris and Rhapsody in Blue. He was a superb pianist, and backed by the New York Philharmonic, pure beauty!

    • #7
  8. JennaStocker Member
    JennaStocker
    @JennaStocker

    Eugene Kriegsmann (View Comment):

    Somewhere back in the 1960s my father photographed John Bubbles. He had recently done a recording of Porgy and Bess with William Warfield and Leontyne Price. It was called the “dream cast recording.” He gave my father that LP, and I immediately claimed it. I have never heard a version of that opera that was better. Bubbles was Sportin’ Life, Warfield was Porgy, and Price sang Bess. That vinyl was played so often during the succeeding years that it doesn’t quite have the fidelity it once possessed, but every so often I pull it out and listen to it, like sipping a really fine old cognac.

    I have always loved Leonard Bernstein’s recording of American in Paris and Rhapsody in Blue. He was a superb pianist, and backed by the New York Philharmonic, pure beauty!

    What a lovely story. I’m glad you have that record to enjoy the beautiful memories- and Leonard Bernstein was a genius. It must have been incredible for those who heard him in person. Thank you for sharing this!

    • #8