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George Gershwin - His Life and Work (Anglais) Relié – 8 décembre 2006

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George Gershwin Gershwin created some of the most beloved music of the twentieth century and, along with Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin, and Cole Porter, helped make the golden age of Broadway golden. This biography of George Gershwin (1898-1937) unravels the myths surrounding one of America's most celebrated composers and establishes the enduring value of his music. Full description

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78 internautes sur 78 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
THE Gershwin study 6 décembre 2006
Par John McWhorter - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
Gershwin buffs, run, don't walk to get this book. Pollack has written the definitive study of both "The Life" and "The Work," as per his two fat sections.

Pollack's book is, for one, the first Gershwin bio that takes advantage of the discovery of mountains of original orchestra parts for Golden Age musical theatre scores in a Secaucus warehouse in the early eighties. As such, Pollack analyzes Gershwin's theatre scores closely just as classical music scholars can attend to Mozart or Haydn's works.

Earlier bios could only address the scores largely on the basis of the songs from each score that happened to be published as sheet music, with only a handful of the scores then existing as full piano-vocal scores or as latter-day abridged and heavily adapted recordings. But over the past two decades, most of Gershwin's significant scores have been recorded in full from the discovered materials, such that via these recordings as well as examining the original materials himself, Pollack can address the work as it was presented when it was new, i.e. chorus numbers, character songs not published as sheets, incidental music, etc. Given that musicals constituted the bulk of Gershwin's output in his short life, this alone makes Pollack's book invaluable.

In addition, some Gershwin bios have been written by people focused on pulling him down, devoted to revealing him as an undereducated, boorish parvenu (i.e. the ones by Charles Schwartz and Joan Peyser). Pollack's sleuthing and interviews conclusively demonstrate that these evaluations were incorrect: Gershwin pursued serious musical training throughout his life, it shows in his work, and socially, he was a beloved, charming person who was deeply mourned at his death.

Pollack has truly done his homework, such that just about any question one might have about Gershwin is exhaustively answered. For each show he chronicles not only the score and its critical reception in New York, but also its London and even Australian versions if there were any, all of the revivals across the US, and its recordings -- and he does this even starting with the obscure early efforts. He is equally thorough re Gershwin's concert music.

It should be said that those seeking further engagement with the raison d'etre of Joan Peyser's THE MEMORY OF ALL THAT, the story that Gershwin fathered a love child with a chorus girl and paid him and his mother off to keep it quiet, will not be satisfied. Pollack briefly addresses objections to that thesis from some quarters since Peyser's book was published -- but, in my view, neglects the rather damning facts that 1) said love child looks exactly like Gershwin and 2)was supported in his claim to have made regular visits to Gershwin's apartment by none other than Gershwin's valet. As such, one must consult various sources pre- and post-Peyser to come to conclusions about that issue. One suspects that Pollack, having been granted interviews from surviving keepers of the Gershwin flame, opted on that particular subject to step around giving offense. He is not to be faulted for this.

It should also be said, however, that inevitably of a work so dazzlingly complete, this book is not one most people would want to read from front to back. It is, in its way, a reference book set in prose. There are times when Pollack seems almost obsessive -- such as bringing vast study to bear upon locating the purchase by Gershwin's parents of a piano in precisely late 1910, or letting us know (based on a chance message from abroad) that OH, KAY played in translation in Sweden, or informing us via close examination of the original arrangement of RHAPSODY IN BLUE -- not later arrangements, but the original one, mind you -- that one player doubled on bass and tuba.

But this degree of obsession is what real scholarship is, and though for most it will be a book to jump around in than to read page for page, Pollack has given us an authoritative masterpiece. I am in awe of the man, and happy to have this one on my shelves forever.
28 internautes sur 28 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Genius writes about genius 10 mai 2007
Par Karl F. Miller - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
We usually apply the term genius to the subject of a biography. With the writing of Howard Pollack, one can also apply that term to the biographer.

When I first heard that Pollack was at work on a biography of Gershwin, I was saddened to think that he would be devoting his time to someone who had been the subject of so many biographies. I thought, what else was there to be said about Gershwin, but when I recalled the balanced and thoroughly considered approach he brought to his biography of Copland, I was curious to read what he would write. Not only was I not disappointed, I was overwhelmed.

Pollack does not question the actions of his subjects, he reports and tells a story, leaving the reader to make his or her own judgements. There is no attempt to sensationalize anything as he lets the facts speak for themselves. Pollack treats his subjects with the greatest respect without losing sight of their humanity. He brings great dignity to his writing and to his subjects.

His use of the language is transparent. You are never slowed down by his words. When he writes about music, Pollack has a remarkable ability to engage both the musician and non-musician alike. As with his volume on Copland, you sense he knows the music so well that he can intuit what the composer intended with each new work. He seeks out so much of the related material one would think he has devoted his entire life to the study of his subjects. You are aware of the detail, but not overwhelmed or encumbered by it.

I found the quotes from Michael Feinstein to be very informative. Feinstein, is not only the great exponent of popular music of the tradition of Gershwin, Kern, Berlin, et al; he is also one of the most informed in the music of that period. The time Feinstein spent as Ira Gershwin's assistant lends credibility to his perspective and recollections, and adds great insight to both the humanity and the music of Gershwin.

This volume is as close to an encapsulation of Gershwin's life and works as one could hope to find in words.
8 internautes sur 8 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Exhaustive, but not exhausting biography 5 mai 2008
Par pcwluhn - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
Pollack's book is clearly aimed at Gershwin fan(atics)--it's an inch-by-inch biography that focuses more on the artist (and the music) and less on the man per se. But that's not a criticism. There are plenty of books that delve into Gershwin's personal life; Pollack's is the definitive look at Gershwin the creator. Granted, there's an overwhelming amount of detail--about every single music teacher, about every single piece he wrote, and how all of it interrelates. At times, the minutia drives you nuts (especially when Pollack gives the reader lengthy plot summaries about every musical Gershwin wrote); but ultimately, it all adds up to the fullest, most complete picture of Gershwin we've ever seen. Pollack convincingly (and finally) dispels many misconceptions about Gershwin (especially his ability to orchestrate), and reveals new depths and insights about the man's work. Once you read a classic bio (such as Edward Jablonski's), turn to this book next.
10 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
The Best Gershwin Bio 18 décembre 2008
Par John Converse - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
I don't have much to add to what others have said on this site. But I have read most of the other Gershwin biographies, and this one is by far the most complete. It's less about Gershwin the man than Gershwin the artist--but doesn't that make it a richer read? Very few of Gershwin's contemporaries still have the fame that they once had, but he's as well known as ever. Why? It isn't because of what he was like at a party or some such. It was the music he wrote.
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Comprehensive! 28 mars 2009
Par UrungaJeff - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
After 70 years or so since George died so tragically, much has been written, however, Howard Pollack gives new meaning to comprehensive. I became a Gershwinaholic in my early teens having seen the film "An Amercian in Paris" and I needed this volume to round off my collection. Totally engaging and extremely well researched with much new information, this is a must-have for all who love Gershwin and his music.
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