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Category Archives: Broadway

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 […]

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 […]

“Our Love is Here to Stay”: Language, Gender, Brotherly Love, and Sexual Politics

“ Love is Here to Stay” has been a celebrated jazz standard for more than six decades, and it is most often treated as a straightforward love ballad. However, the lack of gendered language in its lyrics opens up the possibility for alternative interpretations, as well as creative and political performances. By Megan Hill, Ph.D. The presence of gendered language (he/she/him/her, man/woman, etc.) in song lyrics provides the opportunity for people concerned with gender and sexuality politics to perform the song in order to make political statements, regardless of whether or not the song’s composer and/or lyricist had such politics […]

From Flop to Top: The Story of “I’ve Got a Crush On You”

  George and Ira Gershwin’s song “I’ve Got a Crush on You” is arguably one of their most famous creations. However, few people know that what made the song a hit was a change from a fast-tempo, Broadway dance piece into a leisurely, sentimental ballad. By: Rachel Fernandes “I’ve Got a Crush on You” I’ve got a crush on you, sweetie pie All the day and night time give me sigh I never had the least notion that I could fall with so much emotion Could you coo, could you care? For a cunning cottage we could share The world […]

The First Memorials: Early Obituaries Struggled to Conceptualize George Gershwin’s Legacy

By Sarah Sisk The startling news was emblazoned on the front page of the New York Times on Monday, July 12, 1937. George Gershwin had died that Sunday despite an emergency operation to remove a brain tumor and save the 38-year-old composer’s life. The news came as a complete shock: while he had suffered from what was deemed a “nervous breakdown” in the weeks preceding, the real source of his ailment was discovered in his final hours, and far too late. In the days and weeks to follow, obituaries cropped up in newspapers across the country, as reporters and columnists […]

Lady Be Good! The Making of the Gershwin Musical Comedy Machine

George and Ira Gershwin were enjoying increasing success in the early 1920s, but they had yet to write a hit show together. Lady Be Good is the story of how a single show changed the future of their careers and the future of Broadway’s musical theater. By Sarah Sisk 1924 was a good year for the Gershwin brothers. That February had seen the premiere and subsequent popular success of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. It was also the year that Ira Gershwin, who had been working with George and other composers to write song lyrics for musical theater, decided to […]

The Real American Folk Song (is a Rag)!

In the ragtime-infatuated New York of 1918, George and Ira Gershwin’s lives seemed to be pulling in different directions. It only took one song to prove that a partnership between the two brothers would spell success for their musical careers. —– Sarah Sisk is an undergraduate English major at U-M’s College of Literature, Science and the Arts. She is working with the Gershwin Initiative as an undergraduate research assistant in the university’s UROP program.   The First Collaboration: The Story of “The Real American Folk Song” Most histories of George and Ira Gershwin’s popular songs begin with George’s instant hit “Swanee,” […]

The Gershwins Shine at the 2015 Tony Awards

Congratulations to the 2015 Broadway production of An American in Paris, directed by Christopher Wheeldon! The Gershwin-inspired ballet-musical made a strong showing at the 2015 Tony Awards with 12 nominations and 4 wins, the latter including: Christopher Wheeldon for Best Choreography Christopher Austin, Don Sebesky, and Bill Elliott for Best Orchestrations Bob Crowley and 59 Productions for Best Scenic Design of a Musical Natasha Katz for Best Lighting Design of a Musical Congratulations to the actors, producers, and those who brought Ira and George’s music to the stage. Thank you for keeping their artistry alive! Note that the Gershwin Critical Edition’s new score and […]