New York City's Impact on George Gershwin Research Paper by Taylor

New York City's Impact on George Gershwin
A discussion on George Gershwin's interactions with New York's 1920 music industry.
# 153942 | 0 words | 0 sources | 2013 | US

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From the Paper:

"George Gershwin was born in Brooklyn and grew up in New York. His mother and father were immigrants, like many New Yorkers, and they lived in the Yiddish Theater District. George's connection to New York's theater and music started at an early age as he worked as an extra on stage and took piano lessons frequently. His skill on piano was exceptional and started working as a song plugger in Tin Pan Alley at the age of fifteen. Tin Pan Alley was New York's one stop shop for the music industry. Located on Twenty-eighth Street, between Broadway and Sixth Avenue, these small buildings serviced many musicians, theaters, and sheet music companies. Sheet music publishers controlled this idea of vertical integration for the music industry. This meant that one company would own all the steps to publishing music. The same company would hire people to write the songs, play the music, publish it, print and sell the music, promote their songs and artists, and even own theaters that would then perform this music. The main focus of this was selling sheet music, and lots of it. If theaters, shows, or famous musicians picked up their songs, the songs would become more popular and they would be able to sell more sheet music. Working as a song plugger, Gershwin had an important role in this music factory. He would be the one playing these songs for sale, and giving potential buyers a preview of what they would be buying. After hearing a song written from the company, a buyer would be able to decide how they could use it in a new show, or what might people might like to hear at their dance halls. Audiences in New York were always looking for an enjoyable, and catchy new song, and Gershwin delivered many of these. One of his famous songs included, "Swanee", written in 1919. This was Gershwin's first hit, and the biggest selling song of his career. The lyrics were written by Irving Caesar, and it was notably performed by Al Jolson, a famous jazz singer of the time. The song sold over a million copies in sheet music, and two million in records. Although it was originally written for a New York revue, Al Jolson decided to sing it in one of his shows after hearing it at a party. With his name attached to the catchy song, Gershwin was able to make a considerable profit from sales."

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