THE GERSHWINS 1930-1937: A DIARY

THE GERSHWINS IN 1930: George has an article printed in ‘Revolt in the Arts’ titled ‘The Composer in the Machine Age’: “The composer… has been helped a great deal by the mechanical reproduction of music… Schubert could not make any money because he did not have an opportunity through the means of distribution of his day to reach the public. He died at.. 31… Composers must compose in the same way the old composers did… Hard work can never be replaced in the composition of music..”                                                        

THE GERSHWINS IN 1930: Stockbroker and composer Arthur Gershwin, with a bust of his famous brother George’s head, circa 1930

THE GERSHWINS IN 1930: January 1st – ‘Variety’ says ‘Strike Up the Band’ with Clarke & McCullough is the best show in town!

THE GERSHWINS IN 1930: January 5th – George attends a party given by his friend Jules Glaenzer (drawn a few years later) in his luxurious home.THE GERSHWINS IN 1930: January 6th – Out of town tryouts for ‘Strike Up the Band’ move from Boston to the Schubert Theatre, New Haven

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 12th – The New York Times publishes a sketch of Bobby Clark

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 12th – The New York Times reports that George (& his telephone number) are featured in the 1930 edition of ‘Who’s Who’!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 12th – The New York Herald Tribune publishes a Hirschfield cartoon of the forthcoming ‘Strike Up the Band’ featuring Clarke & McCullough, & George conducting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 13th – Dress rehearsal for opening night of ‘Strike Up the Band’ at the Times Square Theatre, New York. Many of you will have seen this unique footage taken in rehearsal. George seems to be really enjoying the banter with Clarke & McCullough: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3XwQqTAK3E

January 14th – George conducts the opening night of ‘Strike Up the Band’ at the Times Square Theatre, New York.

 

 

 

 

January 14th – Vernon Duke: “..Prokofiev & I went to the ‘Strike Up the Band’ opening & later to a midnight party in Gershwin’s honour.. George didn’t leave the piano until the notices – all excellent – arrived, then resumed his recital with renewed vigour… Pop Gershwin (was asked) how he liked the show: ‘What you mean how I like it? I have to like it.'”

 

 

 

January 15th – The New York Times prints a review of ‘Strike Up the Band’: ” The music is by George Gershwin – an ambitious, original & versatile score…. a true Gilbert & Sullivan flavour” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 17th – Red Nichols & his band record ‘Strike Up the Band’ in New York, 3 days after opening night. The pit orchestra for the show included Red Nichols, Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Gene Krupa, Jimmy Dorsey & Charlie Teagarden. Wow! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2IJ0OvMFD4

Around January 14th – A momento saved by a member of the ‘Strike Up the Band’ cast! Who chewed the gum?

January 19th – The New York Times publishes an article about Ira: “George Gershwin has a brother…. Kind critical words were set upon paper on behalf of Brother Ira’s deft, ingenious lyrics”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 20th – Clark & McCullough in ‘Strike Up the Band’ on the cover of ‘New York Amusements’ 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 22nd – ‘Funny Face’ closes in London after a brilliant 14 month run & goes on tour. The Astaires’ dressing room is crowded with fans, including Aly Khan (an 18 year old playboy) & his friend Charles Cavendish… who seemed very interested in Adele! That weekend, while Fred stayed in London, Adele was invited to Paris for a few days by Aly with a group including Charles. When she returned, she told Fred she had accepted an invitation to spend a weekend with Charles at home – at Chatsworth House, Derbyshire (pictured)!!

January 21st – ‘Nine-Fifteen Revue’ opened pre broadway run at Shubert Theatre, New Haven until 25th. Some songs written by George’s friend Kay Swift (pictured) & her husband.

January 22nd – MGM gets the film rights to ‘Strike Up the Band’

January 22nd – ‘Variety’ reviews ‘Strike Up the Band’: “…the… Gershwin score…. stands out all the way, & figures to be the dominant factor…”

January 22nd – ‘Variety’ reviews the ‘Strike Up the Band’ costumes, which “reflect the technicolor influence, with turquoise blue & deep shell-pink favored……there is, in addition, a group of show girls who can actually sing.”

January 25th – An article by Robert Benchley about ‘Strike Up the Band’ is published in The New Yorker: ‘Satire to Music’ “George.. has written… some of the best things he has done…”

January 26th – George performs for a music school benefit in Manhattan. It’s still going!

January 26th – New York Times: ‘Times Square Gossip’ – George & Herbert Fields (pictured) will write a show ‘The Big Charade’ for Sam H Harris (pictured)….. It never happened!
January 26th – After only a few days playing soprano lead Joan Fletcher, Margaret Shilling leaves the cast to sing for RKO! Some hasty auditioning needed!

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 27th – The ‘Nine-Fifteen Revue’ tryout run moves to the Shubert Wilbur Theatre in Boston. The Gershwins look in, & George is very impressed with young composer Harold Arlen’s “Get Happy”. They become friends – in fact, a mutual admiration society!

January 27th The New York Times reports that last evening George performed at a ‘Benefit Musicale’ sponsored by his mother, Rose.
January 28th – George attends a revival of ‘The Chocolate Soldier’ by Oscar Straus…. & likes it!
January 29th – George attends a lunch welcoming Oscar Straus (pictured in 1930, composer of ‘The Chocolate Soldier’) to New York
January 29th – variety magazine reports that ‘Strike Up the Band’ is 1 of the 3 leading musicals, grossing $36,000 in the 1st week – “not bad for January”
January 29th – Variety magazine also reports that for ‘Strike Up the Band’ there were ‘standees in for all performances again last week’

 

 

January 30th – The New York Times gives more details of George’s appearance at the Henry St Music School benefit concert on February 2nd – a star-studded affair! 

 

 

 

 

January 31st – Victor Arden & Phil Ohman, dual pianists, & their orchestra record ‘Strike Up the Band’, 2 weeks after opening night. https://youtu.be/srx18Nl2_jw

 

 

 

 

 

 

February – George plans an orchestral suite that would ‘depict life in NY in its various & most interesting phases’ including ‘ the Ghetto..,Chinatown, Little Italy, Harlem & 42nd St’. Now THAT would have been interesting. What a pity he didn’t have time to write it. I suppose the closest thing to it is the 2nd Rhapsody, elements of which were used in the movie ‘Delicious’. George also spoke about setting Lincoln’s Gettysburg address for soloist & chorus, imagining the soloist solemnly intoning the words & the chorus responding “until at last, with the glorious finale of the Address itself, the chorus companions the voice of Lincoln in a climactic outburst”. Again, George never found the time, but Aaron Copland produced his ‘Lincoln Portrait’ in 1942.

George inscribes a photo to Miss Mary Case Hart??

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

George sends good wishes to H. C. Branch (?) (but hasn’t updated his headed writing paper yet!)

 

 

 

 

 

February 5th – George is off to Palm Beach!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 7th – George signs a cheque (written by another hand) to Sheffield Farms. Could it be his milk bill, or, since they also delivered orange juice in California, & he was there at the time, maybe it was that?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 9th – Noguchi’s bust of George is exhibited in New York

February 11th – George appreciates coffee with a fresh vigorous flavour! (Daily News)

February 11th – George has checked in at the Ambassadors Hotel (4 years later renamed Biltmore) Palm Beach…. nice!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 11th – The ‘Nine-Fifteen Revue’ opens including songs & material by a vast number of contributors (including George & Ira) to poor reviews

 

 

 

 

 

February 11th – The ‘Arizona Republic’ critic is more interested in Pa (Morris) Gershwin! (Pictured in Florida with wife Rose in 1932)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 11th – Peppy talkies star Doris Carson and others make new version of ‘Strike Up the Band’ a hit! (Santa Cruz News)

February 12th – The New York Times reports some bad feeling about royalties between ‘Strike Up the Band’ producer, Edgar Selwyn & writer Morrie Ryskind!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 13th – A feature on famous violinist Jascha Heifetz: “He looks forward with some misgiving to a (ping pong) match with George….. He is afraid of Gershwin’s jazz rhythm. Gershwin on the other hand, is said to fear Heifetz’ flexible right wrist.”(!) (Asbury Park Press)

 

 

 

February 13th – George dines at THE new restaurant in Palm Beach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 14th – George is amongst the “brilliant throng of bathers & spectators” at the Sea Spray Beach Club, Palm Beach! (Maybe something like the video…?) https://youtu.be/yWV8BhnKCYQ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 16th – George arrives at the Blackstone Hotel, Miami. He “intends to spend most of his time fishing”!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 16th – (see article below) ..When you’re on holiday in Miami, & someone on stage spots you & drags you up on stage to play ‘Rhapsody in Blue’… but I’m sure George enjoyed it!

 

 

 

 

 

February 19th – “George Gershwin, the composer, paddled a canoe around the pool…”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 20th – Article in the Tampa Daily Times says that George was seen laughing at his own show (probably 2 or 3 weeks earlier!)

February 20th – Edgar Selwyn, producer of ‘Strike Up the Band’, arrives at the same Miami hotel as George, so I’m guessing this is the approximate date of this photo of them on the beach together!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 23rd – Advert in Palm Beach Post – George to play (rather low down the bill?) at a benefit for under-privileged children

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 23rd – It is announced that George will write a ‘Circus Music’ finale for a Miami benefit performance on March 7th. What happened to that? Is it lying on a dusty shelf in Miami somewhere? Miami sleuths investigate… & let me know!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 25th – Big star Irene Bordoni will also appear in the benefit concert & George will be ‘playing & singing’ his compositions (SINGING!?) Will Irene sing ‘Do It again’?

February 25th – George soon to return from Miami to the Ambassador Hotel in Palm Beach

February 26th – A report in the Daily News says that George’s Palm Beach benefit at the Paramount Theatre (starring Irene Bordoni) raised $27,000 for under-privileged children

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 26th – George HAS returned to the Ambassador Hotel, Palm Beach… There’s not a table to be had!!

            February 28th – George attends the heavyweight boxing championship in Miami (I can’t make him out on the newsreel footage, though!) https://youtu.be/R3sDNI6LTdQ
February 27th – The New York Times says that George is writing the score for ‘The Big Charade’. Book by Herbert Fields, who wrote ‘50,000,000 Frenchmen’ with Cole Porter. (??)
   
February 28th – Preview of Sunday’s (March 2nd) all-Gershwin radio programme: “In the studio, Gershwin is shy & diffident….”
February 28th – George is “a personal friend” of Segovia (pictured c1930) (Palm Beach Post)

 

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