Excerpt from Writer’s Almanac.
Today is the birthday of American composer and musician George Gershwin (1898), whose lyrical and jazzy pieces, like Rhapsody in Blue, “Summertime,” “I Got Rhythm,” and “Embraceable You,” has become part of the American Songbook and influenced musicians like Charlie Parker and Janis Joplin. Gershwin and his brother Ira wrote the music for popular shows like Porgy and Bess (1935) and Girl Crazy (1930), which made Ginger Rogers an overnight Broadway sensation.
When Gershwin lived in Hollywood and wrote for the movies, he became good friends with German composer Arnold Schoenberg. They used to play tennis every week at Gershwin’s Beverly Hills home. Once, he asked Schoenberg for composition lessons, but Schoenberg said no, explaining, “I would only make you a bad Schoenberg, and you’re such a good Gershwin already.”