Five For Friday: George & Ira Gershwin

Brothers George and Ira Gershwin worked together and wrote a number of musicals and songs together over the course of George’s relatively short life (1898-1937). Among their musicals are Lady Be Good, Strike Up The Band, Funny Face, Girl Crazy and the opera Porgy and Bess, which they wrote with DuBose Heyward. George also wrote orchestral works such as An American In Paris, Rhapsody In Blue, and Catfish Row, a suite based on the music from Porgy And Bess.

Here are five songs by George and Ira Gershwin. I’ve included "I Got Rhythm," which, while not part of one of their shows, is a jazz standard, and bebop artists such as Dizzy Gillespie have used the chord changes (called "the Rhythm changes") as the basis for numerous improvisatons and songs (not the least of which being the theme from The Flintstones).

  1. Ella Fitzgerald, "Summertime" (from Porgy and Bess)
  2. Ethel Merman, "I Got Rhythm"
  3. Nat King Cole, "Embraceable You" (from the unpublished operetta East Is West)
  4. Fred Astaire, "They Can’t Take That Away From Me" (from Shall We Dance?)
  5. Billie Holiday, "The Man I Love" (from Strike Up The Band)

George Gershwin died of a glioblastoma (a brain tumor) on July 11, 1937. Ira went on to work with Jerome Kern, Kurt Weill, and Harold Arlen, among others. He died in 1983 at the age of 86.

George and Ira Gershwin, your Five For Friday, January 20, 2023.

26 thoughts on “Five For Friday: George & Ira Gershwin

  1. I’m just so happy you showed both variations of the song with Astaire and Rogers. That dance routine is sublime. I love the music to Porgy And Bess and I do love the operatic style more but tgatd just a personal preference. It just shows how well these songs can go from jazz to opera and its the same song.

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      1. They knew each other well….and most of the celbrities back then. George S. Kaufman and Irving Berlin also.

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  2. So many standards still recorded today written by the Gershwin’s. John if I’m not mistaken I believe “I Got Rhythm” was from a play called Girl Crazy in 1930.

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  3. Wow, I LOVE these songs. Thanks, John. Though my dad loved Summertime and I can just hear him singing along. Kinda sad. My dad would have loved these selections. I do, too. A nice way to start the day.

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  4. You had me a “Gershwin” … my all time favorite writing duo. I have a friend in Manhattan who lives directly across the street from what used to be the Gershwin residence; I get chills just looking at it. This is the kind of music I can listen to all day. I hope you don’t mind – I added my favorite Gershwin composition, one of the best ever penned: https://youtu.be/Fpsku1TwQ7E

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