George Gershwin

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Larry Starr

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In this welcome addition to the immensely popular Yale Broadway Masters series, Larry Starr focuses fresh attention on George Gershwin’s Broadway contributions and examines their centrality to the composer’s entire career. Starr presents Gershwin as a composer with a unified musical vision—a vision developed on Broadway and used as a source of strength in his well-known concert music. In turn, Gershwin’s concert-hall experience enriched and strengthened his musicals, leading eventually to his great “Broadway opera,” Porgy and Bess. Through the prism of three major shows—Lady Be Good (1924), Of Thee I Sing (1931), and Porgy and Bess (1935)—Starr highlights Gershwin’s distinctive contributions to the evolution of the Broadway musical. In addition, the author considers Gershwin’s musical language, his compositions for the concert hall, and his movie scores for Hollywood in the light of his Broadway experience.

Larry Starr is a Professor of music history, University of Washington. He lives in Seattle.

“….a sad story but a very illuminating one, and the book is an enthralling read.”—Peter Dickinson, Gramophone

“Larry Starr's valuable new book…is not a traditional biography…but rather an insightful, technically intricate yet easy-to-follow study of Gershwin's music, particularly as it came out of the Broadway tradition.”—Tim Page, The Washington Post

“If George Gershwin provided much that the world's listeners have savored as America's musical daily bread, Larry Starr's spirited book goes a long way toward showing how he did it.” —Richard Crawford, author of America's Musical Life: A History

“This book bristles with fresh insights about Gershwin's Broadway shows, a repertory that delivered tunes we continue to love. The shows themselves, however, are less well known than the songs that emerged from them. Starr brings us close to these distant-seeming theater works. His capacity to take a reader inside a piece of music is simply remarkable.”—Carol J. Oja, Harvard University


“A carefully crafted, insightful look into the music of an iconic American composer that sheds light on the musical genius that makes our toes tap so and our lips hum!”—Joyce DiDonato, mezzo-soprano

“Whatever aspect of Gershwin's music interests you, you will find nourishing insights in this book.” —Wayne D. Shirley, Music Division, Library of Congress (emeritus)

“Notwithstanding his immense popularity, Gershwin was long patronized by American classical musicians and music historians. Larry Starr’s heartfelt new book – so characteristically shrewd, humane, and felicitous, so vulnerable to Gershwin’s greatness – buttresses an overdue ‘Gershwin moment’ now wondrously upon us.” —Joseph Horowitz, author, Classical Music in America: A History

"An admirable effort to understand the key shows in Gershwin's career and how the productions shaped him as a composer."--Eric Felten, The Wall Street Journal

“This is a highly distinguished and stimulating piece of scholarship, very well written and thoroughly recommendable to student, scholar and non-specialist alike.”—Phillip Borg-Wheeler, Classical Music

"Humane and insightful…. The author’s intelligence and affection shine through."—Ivan Hewett, Daily Telegraph

"His analysis of these works are well pitched, comprehensible to expert and enthusiast…. Thorough with context and the insights come fast."— Kieron Quirke, Financial Times

“This book is a compelling, constantly engaging read….If you enjoy Gershwin’s work, in whatever form, and want to deepen your understanding of it, then Starr’s book is an ideal port of call.”—

“[A] probing, original study.”—Seattle Times

Selected as a Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2011 in the Music category.
ISBN: 9780300111842
Publication Date: December 14, 2010
216 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
19 b/w illus. + 24 music examples