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George and Ira Gershwin: Musical Teamwork



George and Ira Gershwin: Musical Teamwork
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 9 to 12
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   10.18

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    felt-tipped, full-swing, livin, recognition, pianos, pianist, writing, publicly, legacy, estate, pursue, composer, classical, attitude, well-known, punched
     content words:    Ira Gershwin, Of Thee, Got Rhythm, Al Jolson, Arthur Francis, Lady Be Good, Adele Astair, Academy Award, Fine Arts, Congressional Gold Medal


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     Spanish: George y Ira Gershwin: equipo de trabajo musical


George and Ira Gershwin: Musical Teamwork
By Beth Beutler
  

1     Talented individuals in the writing of music and lyrics, George and Ira Gershwin were perhaps as well-known as a music and lyrics team that highly influenced America's musical history and contributed greatly to the growth of American musical comedy. You may have heard songs from some of their well-known shows, such as Porgy and Bess or Of Thee I Sing; George's classical piece, Rhapsody in Blue, or popular jazz songs such as I've Got Rhythm. Together, George and Ira wrote more than 24 scores, with George concentrating on the music and Ira on the lyrics.
 
2     Though Ira was the older of the two, he lived much longer than George did. He lived to be 87, having been born in 1896 and passing away in 1983. George, unfortunately, succumbed to a brain tumor in 1937, while his career was in full-swing. He was only 39. Even so, he was perhaps considered one of--if not the--richest composer of his time. This was perhaps due in part to all the player piano rolls that he created. (Player piano rolls were rolls of paper that had holes punched in them in sequences, that, when felt-tipped fingers touched the raised area of the paper, selected piano keys would play, making the piano essentially "play itself." Player pianos were great entertainment back in early 1900's, long before Ipods!)
 
3     George first became interested in music at 10 years old. Ironically, his parents had purchased a piano, hoping Ira would learn to play. Instead, George began taking lessons, eventually leaving high school at 15 to continue to pursue music. Over the years, he developed into an accomplished pianist and composer and became more and more well-known for his work. In particular, the song Swanee which jazz great Al Jolson performed brought him great recognition.

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