By far the bulk of Gershwin’s output is devoted to songs – more than five hundred of them, most of which come from his more than four dozen works for the musical stage. Two of these stage works are operas – the short Blue Monday Blues and the full-length Porgy and Bess. Gershwin also wrote music for four films (Shall We Dance is the most famous), a few piano pieces and a handful of concert works: Rhapsody in Blue, An American in Paris, Cuban Overture, Concerto in F, Second Rhapsody and Variations on “I Got Rhythm.”
Gershwin’s style is derived from the American soul and spirit. “Epitomizing the Jazz Age in every pore of his suave being,” writes critic Alex Ross, “Gershwin was the ultimate phenomenon in early-twentieth century American music, the man in whom all the discordant tendencies of the era achieved sweet harmony.” Many of Gershwin’s works are infused with jazz, and if he can be said to have made one single overriding accomplishment in his life, it was to create a bridge between jazz and the concert hall.
- Robert Markow