Richard Crawford – Summertime

New York City native and gifted pianist George Gershwin blossomed as an accompanist before his talent as a songwriter opened the way to Broadway, where he fashioned his own brand of American music. He composed a long run of musical comedies, many with his brother Ira as lyricist, but his aspirations reached beyond commercial success.

A lifetime learner, Gershwin was able to appeal to listeners on both sides of the purported popular-classical divide. In 1924 – when he was just 25 – he bridged that gap with his first instrumental composition, Rhapsody in Blue, an instant classic.

From that time forward his work as a composer, pianist, and citizen of the Jazz Age made him in some circles a leader on America’s musical scene. In the late 1920s Gershwin extended the range of the shows he scored to include the United Kingdom. Moreover, having polished his skills as an orchestrator, he pushed boundaries again in 1935 with the groundbreaking folk opera Porgy and Bess – his magnum opus.

Acclaimed music historian Richard Crawford traces the arc of Gershwin’s remarkable life, seamlessly blending colorful anecdotes with a discussion of Gershwin’s unforgettable oeuvre.

Author: Richard Crawford
Narrator: David Colacci
Duration: 19 hours 5 minutes
Released: 19 Mar 2009
Publisher: HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books
Language: English

User Review:

theory maimed

I was intrigued by the idea of a biography of Geshwin, so I downloaded this book.

In the introduction, the author explains he’s musicology professor. I can see that in this book. Vast passages describe the music in all sorts of detail about structure, etc. I’m not that knowledgeable about music, so this was lost on me.

This all makes sense as what could be an academic text, but the book isn’t so described.

It would have been so much better if in the descriptions of the music were accompanied by selections of that which is being discussed. That would have made this book excellent for someone like me.

The narrator is excellent as always. He, along with the subject matter, is why I bought this book.

If you’re into music enough to appreciate all the discussions then this would be a 5 star listen. If not, a biography that focused more on the composer’s life and times would be preferable.