The Modern Age

twentieth century

(Classical Music Map)


I. History of Classical Music  (by John Stanley)
The great composers and their masterworks in MP3 format
Albeniz Borodin Donizetti Hindemith Prokofiev Schutz
Albinoni Brahms Dowland Janacek Puccini Scriabin
Allegri Britten Dvorak Kodaly Purcell Sibelius
Arne Bruckner Falla Leoncavallo Rachmaninov Smetana
Auber Busoni Field Liszt Rameau Strauss J.S.
Bach Byrd Gabrieli Lully Ravel Strauss R.
Barber Carissimi Gershwin Mahler Respighi Stravinsky
Bartok Charpentier Gesualdo Mendelssohn Rimsky-Korsakov Tallis
Beethoven Cherubini Glinka Meyerbeer Rossini Tchaikovsky
Bellini Chopin Gluck Monteverdi Saint-Saens Telemann
Bernstein Clementi Gounod Mozart Scarlatti Verdi
Berwald Corelli Grieg Mussorgsky Schoenberg Victoria
Berlioz Couperin Handel Pachelbel Shostakovich Villa-Lobos
Bizet Debussy Haydn Paganini Schubert Vivaldi
Boccherini Delibes Hildegard Palestrina Schumann Wagner
Orff  "Carmina Burana"
II. History of Jazz

George Gershwin



George Gershwin brought American popular music into the concert hall, writing as well a wealth of standard popular songs. Predominantly accompanied by lyrics by his brother Ira, these remain unsurpassed in the twentieth century for melodic invention and memorability.

Gershwin was born to poor Jewish parents m Manhattan, and had little exposure to music in his childhood. Initially self-taught as a pianist, he had piano and music theory lessons, but never became fluent at reading music. In 1914 Gershwin left school to work for Remick's, a Tin Pan Alley publisher. He was soon having his own songs published and in 1919 wrote his first musical, La La Lucille. This was also the year of his first big hit, the song "Swanee", which became hugely popular in a recording by Al Jolson.

Gershwin's aspirations towards serious composition were never far from the surface. In 1919 he wrote Lullaby for string quartet; a one-act jazz opera, Blue Monday blues, followed in 1922. But when the bandleader Paul Whiteman commissioned Rhapsody in blue in 1924, Gershwin came of age as a concert composer. Gershwin himself was the first soloist in this brilliant conception, a one-movement concerto for piano and jazz band. Whiteman entrusted the work's orchestration, however, to his arranger, Ferde Grofe, owing to Gershwin's lack of experience with instrumentation. Like all of the composer's large-scale works, Rhapsody in blue can be criticized for its rather primitive sense of structure; but this has never stopped an adoring public from warming to its haunting melodies and the effective brilliance of its piano writing. One of the work's most famous features, the opening glissando for clarinet, was m fact an afterthought: Gershwin had originally written a 17-note scale, but when the band's clarinettist played a glissando in rehearsal as a joke, the composer so liked the effect that he incorporated it into the score.

Following the success of Rhapsody in blue, Gershwin was commissioned to write further large concert works: the Piano concerto in F, from 1925, and An American in Paris from 1928. He continued to compose songs, and from 1924 the lyrics for almost all of them were written by his brother Ira, whose deft and witty words contributed to making the brothers one of the most successful songwriting teams on Broadway, responsible for such works as Girl crazy and Strike up the band, recently revived on CD in authentic editions. With a fortune by now matching his fame, Gershwin began in the late 1920s to collect paintings by artists such as Braque and Chagall; he also devoted more and more time to painting his own pictures.

Between 1934 and 1935 Gershwin fulfilled a long-standing ambition to compose a Negro folk opera. The result was Porgy and Bess, written m part while Gershwin was living on the island near Charleston, South Carolina, where the opera is set: songs such as "Summertime" and "I got plenty of nuttin" were influenced by the speech and music of the local black community.

In 1937 Gershwin started to experience spells of dizziness; in July of that year he died, tragically young, of a brain tumour. The synthesis of jazz and serious music he achieved not only is remarkable in its own right but also stands as a unique reflection of American society between the wars.


George Gershwin



George Gershwin (1898-1937)



Rhapsody in Blue  (fragment)
Kristian Banatzianou

"Porgy and Bess" (fragments)
"Porgy and Bess"
Jennifer Graf

Daniela Stigliano

N'kenge Simpson-Hoffman
Nate Robinson
It ain't necessarily so
Piano Preludes
Linda Love

Do It Again
Robin Alciatore

Nice Work If You Can Get It
Sara MacKimmie

Oh, Kay!
Sara MacKimmie
Someone to Watch Over Me


Pablo Picasso


















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