You Are Viewing

Category Archives: Buddy DeSylva

For the First Time in Nearly a Century, Original Orchestrations of “La, La, Lucille”

The U-M Gershwin Initiative is thrilled to share the first-ever recordings of two songs from the recently rediscovered touring orchestration of George Gershwin’s first complete Broadway show — La, La, Lucille, a 1919 bedroom farce! These recordings of the rediscovered orchestrations, likely by Frank Saddler (1864–1921), were filmed live at our Gershwin 1924 Centennial Celebration at Michigan Theater. Based on our research, this was the first time they had been heard since 1926! You can read about the rediscovery in Associate Editor Jacob Kerzner’s post and in a recent University Record article. With its wistful rue, “Somehow It Seldom Comes […]

Happy 100th to Rhapsody in Blue! Videos and Program Notes from Our Rhapsody in Blue Centennial Concert

We were thrilled to be able to share our centennial concert for Rhapsody in Blue and the four Gershwin musicals of 1924 with so many people at Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor on Sunday, February 11, 2024 — using George Gershwin’s own piano! It was amazing to have such a large and enthusiastic audience. Thank you so much to all who participated and to everyone who made it possible. Please read more about our program here! We are thrilled to share with you the video of Rhapsody in Blue in its original jazz band orchestration by Ferde Grofé using Ryan Raul […]

Rediscovering La, La, Lucille

In this post, Associate Editor Jacob Kerzner describes discovering materials that had been thought lost from George Gershwin’s first full musical, La, La, Lucille (1919), and some of the challenges of preparing the new critical edition. For our recordings of the rediscovered materials, please see this post. As the world celebrates the centennial of Rhapsody in Blue, many are marveling at the 25-year-old George Gershwin’s accomplished musicality. His rise to fame began four years earlier in April 1920 when Columbia Records released Al Jolson’s performance of his and Irving Caesar’s song “Swanee,” selling an estimated two million records.[1] But just […]

Jazz Opera? Problems of Genre in Blue Monday

While it was never particularly successful, George Gershwin’s 1922 one-act “jazz-opera” Blue Monday played an important role in bridging the gap between his popular style and classical compositions. This post—the final installment of our three-part series devoted to Blue Monday—explores just what a “jazz-opera” might be and delves deeper into the cultural implications of these stylistic elements in Gershwin’s work. Content Warning: This post contains a quotation of an offensive racial slur. As discussed in the initial post of this series, George Gershwin’s Blue Monday was cut from the George White Scandals of 1922 after opening night. Still, this short […]

Blue Monday: A Compositional Crossroads

While it was never particularly successful, George Gershwin’s 1922 one-act “jazz-opera” Blue Monday played an important role in bridging the gap between his popular style and classical compositions. This post—the first of a three-part series devoted to Blue Monday—delves into the creation and short life of the work and explores its place in Gershwin’s compositional development. At the peak of his career, George Gershwin was a versatile and successful composer of movie scores, popular songs, musicals, and concert pieces. But the fifteen-year-old boy who dropped out of school to be a song-plugger didn’t become an opera composer overnight. While the […]