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Ira Gershwin
Ira Gershwin
(6 December 1896 – 17 August 1983) was an American lyricist who collaborated with his younger brother, composer George Gershwin, to create some of the most memorable songs of the 20th century.[1] With George he wrote more than a dozen Broadway shows, featuring songs such as "I Got Rhythm", "Embraceable You", "The Man I Love" and "Someone to Watch Over Me". He was also responsible, along with DuBose Heyward, for the libretto to George's opera Porgy and Bess. The success the Gershwin brothers had with their collaborative works has often overshadowed the creative role that Ira played. His mastery of songwriting continued, however, after the early death of George. He wrote additional hit songs with composers Jerome Kern, Kurt Weill
Kurt Weill
and Harold Arlen. His critically acclaimed 1959 book Lyrics on Several Occasions, an amalgam of autobiography and annotated anthology, is an important source for studying the art of the lyricist in the golden age of American popular song.[2]


1 Life and career 2 Awards and honors 3 Legacy 4 Personal life 5 Notable songs 6 References 7 Sources 8 External links

Life and career[edit] Gershwin was born Israel Gershowitz in New York City, the oldest of four children of Morris (Moishe) and Rose Gershovitz (née Rosa Bruskin), who were Russian Jews, born in St Petersburg, who had emigrated to the US in 1891. Ira's siblings were George (Jacob, b. 1898), Arthur (b. 1900) and Frances (b. 1906). Morris changed the family name to "Gershwine" (or alternatively "Gershvin") well before their children rose to fame; it was not spelled "Gershwin" until later. Shy in his youth, Ira spent much of his time at home reading, but from grammar school through college he played a prominent part in several school newspapers and magazines. He graduated in 1914 from Townsend Harris High School
Townsend Harris High School
where he met Yip Harburg, with whom he enjoyed a lifelong friendship and a love of Gilbert and Sullivan. He attended the City College of New York
City College of New York
but dropped out.[3][4] The childhood home of Ira and George Gershwin
George Gershwin
was in the center of the Yiddish Theater District, on the second floor at 91 Second Avenue, between East 5th Street and East 6th Street. They frequented the local Yiddish theaters.[5][6][7] While George began composing and "plugging" in Tin Pan Alley
Tin Pan Alley
from the age of 18, Ira worked as a cashier in his father's Turkish baths.[8] It was not until 1921 that Ira became involved in the music business. Alex Aarons signed Ira to write the songs for his next show, Two Little Girls in Blue, ultimately produced by Abraham Erlanger, along with co-composers Vincent Youmans and Paul Lannin. So as not to appear to trade off George's growing reputation, Ira wrote under the pseudonym "Arthur Francis", after his youngest two siblings. His lyrics were well received, allowing him successfully to enter the show-business world with just one show.[4] Later the same year, the Gershwins collaborated for the first time on a score; this was for A Dangerous Maid, which played in Atlantic City and on tour.[9] It was not until 1924 that Ira and George teamed up to write the music for what became their first Broadway hit Lady, Be Good. Once the brothers joined forces, their combined talents became one of the most influential forces in the history of American Musical Theatre. "When the Gershwins teamed up to write songs for Lady, Be Good, the American musical found its native idiom."[10] Together, they wrote the music for more than 12 shows and four films. Some of their more famous works include "The Man I Love", "Fascinating Rhythm", "Someone to Watch Over Me", "I Got Rhythm" and "They Can't Take That Away from Me".[2] Their partnership continued until George's sudden death from a brain tumor in 1937. Following his brother's death, Ira waited nearly three years before writing again. After this temporary retirement, Ira teamed up with accomplished composers such as Jerome Kern
Jerome Kern
(Cover Girl); Kurt Weill
Kurt Weill
(Where Do We Go from Here?; Lady in the Dark); and Harold Arlen
Harold Arlen
(Life Begins at 8:40; A Star Is Born).[4] Over the next 14 years, Gershwin continued to write the lyrics for many film scores and a few Broadway shows. But the failure of Park Avenue in 1946 (a "smart" show about divorce, co-written with composer Arthur Schwartz) was his farewell to Broadway.[11] As he wrote at the time, "Am reading a couple of stories for possible musicalization (if there is such a word) but I hope I don't like them as I think I deserve a long rest."[12] In 1947, he took 11 songs George had written but never used, provided them with new lyrics, and incorporated them into the Betty Grable
Betty Grable
film The Shocking Miss Pilgrim. He later wrote comic lyrics for Billy Wilder's 1964 movie Kiss Me, Stupid, although most critics believe his final major work was for the 1954 Judy Garland film A Star Is Born.[4] American singer, pianist and musical historian Michael Feinstein worked for Gershwin in the lyricist's latter years, helping him with his archive. Several lost musical treasures were unearthed during this period, and Feinstein performed some of the material.[13] Feinstein's book The Gershwins and Me: A Personal History in Twelve Songs about working for Ira, and George and Ira's music was published in 2012.[14] According to a 1999 story in Vanity Fair, Ira Gershwin’s love for loud music was as great as his wife’s loathing of it. When Debby Boone—daughter-in-law of his neighbor Rosemary Clooney—returned from Japan with one of the first Sony Walkmans (utilizing cassette tape), Clooney gave it to Michael Feinstein
Michael Feinstein
to give to Ira, "so he could crank it in his ears, you know. And he said, ‘This is absolutely wonderful!’ And he called his broker and bought Sony stock!"[15] Awards and honors[edit] Three of Ira Gershwin's songs ("They Can't Take That Away From Me" (1937), "Long Ago (And Far Away)" (1944) and "The Man That Got Away" (1954)) were nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song, though none won.[16] Along with George S Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind, he was a recipient of the 1932 Pulitzer Prize for Drama
Pulitzer Prize for Drama
for Of Thee I Sing.[17] In 1988 UCLA
established The George and Ira Gershwin
Ira Gershwin
Lifetime Musical Achievement Award in recognition of the brothers' contribution to music, and for their gift to UCLA
of the fight song "Strike Up the Band for UCLA". Recipients include Angela Lansbury
Angela Lansbury
(1988), Ray Charles (1991), Mel Tormé
Mel Tormé
(1994), Bernadette Peters
Bernadette Peters
(1995), Frank Sinatra (2000), Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder
(2002), k.d. lang (2003), James Taylor
James Taylor
(2004), Babyface (2005), Burt Bacharach
Burt Bacharach
(2006), Quincy Jones
Quincy Jones
(2007), Lionel Richie (2008) and Julie Andrews
Julie Andrews
(2009).[18] Legacy[edit] Ira Gershwin
Ira Gershwin
was a joyous listener to the sounds of the modern world. "He had a sharp eye and ear for the minutiae of living." He noted in a diary: "Heard in a day: An elevator's purr, telephone's ring, telephone's buzz, a baby's moans, a shout of delight, a screech from a 'flat wheel', hoarse honks, a hoarse voice, a tinkle, a match scratch on sandpaper, a deep resounding boom of dynamiting in the impending subway, iron hooks on the gutter."[19] In 1987, Ira's widow, Leonore, established the Ira Gershwin
Ira Gershwin
Literacy Center at University Settlement, a century-old institution at 185 Eldridge Street on the Lower East Side, New York City. The Center is designed to give English-language programs to primarily Hispanic and Chinese Americans. Ira and his younger brother George spent many after-school hours at the Settlement.[20] The George and Ira Gershwin
Ira Gershwin
Collection is at the Library of Congress Music Division.[21] The Edward Jablonski and Lawrence D. Stewart Gershwin Collection at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin
University of Texas at Austin
holds a number of Ira's manuscripts and other material.[22] In 2007, the United States Library of Congress
Library of Congress
named its Prize for Popular Song after him and his brother George. Recognizing the profound and positive effect of American popular music on the world's culture, the prize will be given annually to a composer or performer whose lifetime contributions exemplify the standard of excellence associated with the Gershwins.[23] Personal life[edit] He married Leonore (née Strunsky) in 1926.[24] He died in Beverly Hills, California, on 17 August 1983 at the age of 86. He is interred at Westchester Hills Cemetery, Hastings-on-Hudson, New York. Leonore died in 1991. Notable songs[edit]

"But Not for Me" "Embraceable You" "How Long Has This Been Going On?" "I Can't Get Started" "I Got Rhythm" "I've Got a Crush on You" "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" "Love Is Here To Stay" "The Man I Love" "The Man That Got Away" "My Ship" (music by Kurt Weill) "Nice Work If You Can Get It" "'S Wonderful" "Someone to Watch Over Me" "Strike Up the Band" "They Can't Take That Away from Me" "They All Laughed"


^ Obituary Variety, August 24, 1983. ^ a b Ira Gershwin
Ira Gershwin
biography pbs.org, March 17, 2009 ^ Furia, pp.3–4, 11 ^ a b c d Ira Gershwin
Ira Gershwin
biography allmusic.com. Retrieved March 17, 2009 ^ Howard Pollack (2006). George Gershwin: His Life and Work. University of California Press. Retrieved March 10, 2013.  ^ "Reviving, Revisiting Yiddish Culture", Mark Swed, LA Times, October 20, 1998 ^ "Judaic Treasures of the Library of Congress: George Gershwin". Jewish Virtual Library. 2013. Retrieved March 10, 2013.  ^ Furia, p. 26 ^ Pollack, pp. 255–258 ^ Furia, p. 45 ^ John Thaxter (March 31, 2008). "The Stage". The Stage. Retrieved March 18, 2013.  ^ Ira Gershwin
Ira Gershwin
quoted by Edward Jablonski in Gershwin: A Biography, New York: Simon & Schuster (1988) ISBN 0-671-69931-8 ^ Feinstein biography musicianguide.com. Retrieved March 17, 2009 ^ NPR staff (October 13, 2012). "Michael Feinstein: What I Learned From The Gershwins". NPR music. NPR. Retrieved October 21, 2012.  ^ Purdham, Todd S. (April 1999). "The Street Where They Lived". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 6 September 2013.  ^ Gershwin (1959) ^ Brennan, Elizabeth A., "Who's who of Pulitzer Prize winners" (1999), Greenwood Publishing Group, ISBN 1-57356-111-8, p. 100 ^ Gershwin Award Winners uclalumni.net. Retrieved May 11, 2009 ^ Rosenberg, p.31 ^ Staff.Widow of Ira Gershwin
Ira Gershwin
Endows Literacy Center",The New York Times, March 25, 1987 ^ The Library of Congress
Library of Congress
Gershwin Collection The Library of Congress. Retrieved March 17, 2009 ^ "Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin". hrc.utexas.edu:8080. Retrieved March 18, 2013.  ^ "LoC: "Paul Simon to Be Awarded First Annual Gershwin Prize
Gershwin Prize
for Popular Song by Library of Congress"". Loc.gov. March 1, 2007. Retrieved March 18, 2013.  ^ Brennan, p.100


Furia, Philip (1996). Ira Gershwin: The Art of the Lyricist (First ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-508299-0.  Gershwin, Ira; Kimball, Robert (1993). The Complete Lyrics of Ira Gershwin (First ed.). New York: Alfred A Knopf. ISBN 0-394-55651-8.  Gershwin, Ira (1959). Lyrics on Several Occasions (First ed.). New York: Knopf. OCLC 538209.  Pollack, Howard. George Gershwin: his life and work. University of California Press, 2006 ISBN 0-520-24864-3 Rosenberg, Deena (1991). Fascinating Rhythm: The Collaboration of George and Ira Gershwin. Penguin Books USA. ISBN 0-525-93356-5. 

External links[edit]

Wikiquote has quotations related to: Ira Gershwin

Official website 12885, 69352 Ira Gershwin
Ira Gershwin
at the Internet Broadway Database
Internet Broadway Database
Ira Gershwin
Ira Gershwin
on IMDb Library of Congress
Library of Congress
Gershwin collection Ira Gershwin
Ira Gershwin
Collection at the Harry Ransom Center
Harry Ransom Center
at the University of Texas at Austin Gershwin fan site Ira Gershwin
Ira Gershwin
at Find a Grave

v t e

Pulitzer Prize for Drama: Authors

Jesse Lynch Williams (1918) Eugene O'Neill
Eugene O'Neill
(1920) Zona Gale
Zona Gale
(1921) Eugene O'Neill
Eugene O'Neill
(1922) Owen Davis
Owen Davis
(1923) Hatcher Hughes (1924) Sidney Howard
Sidney Howard
(1925) George Kelly (1926) Paul Green (1927) Eugene O'Neill
Eugene O'Neill
(1928) Elmer Rice
Elmer Rice
(1929) Marc Connelly
Marc Connelly
(1930) Susan Glaspell
Susan Glaspell
(1931) George S. Kaufman, Morrie Ryskind and Ira Gershwin
Ira Gershwin
(1932) Maxwell Anderson
Maxwell Anderson
(1933) Sidney Kingsley
Sidney Kingsley
(1934) Zoe Akins
Zoe Akins
(1935) Robert E. Sherwood
Robert E. Sherwood
(1936) Moss Hart
Moss Hart
and George S. Kaufman
George S. Kaufman
(1937) Thornton Wilder
Thornton Wilder
(1938) Robert E. Sherwood
Robert E. Sherwood
(1939) William Saroyan
William Saroyan
(1940) Robert E. Sherwood
Robert E. Sherwood
(1941) Thornton Wilder
Thornton Wilder
(1943) Mary Chase (1945) Russel Crouse and Howard Lindsay (1946) Tennessee Williams
Tennessee Williams
(1948) Arthur Miller
Arthur Miller
(1949) Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II
Oscar Hammerstein II
and Joshua Logan (1950) Joseph Kramm (1952) William Inge
William Inge
(1953) John Patrick (1954) Tennessee Williams
Tennessee Williams
(1955) Albert Hackett
Albert Hackett
and Frances Goodrich (1956) Eugene O'Neill
Eugene O'Neill
(1957) Ketti Frings (1958) Archibald MacLeish
Archibald MacLeish
(1959) Jerome Weidman, George Abbott, Jerry Bock
Jerry Bock
and Sheldon Harnick
Sheldon Harnick
(1960) Tad Mosel
Tad Mosel
(1961) Frank Loesser
Frank Loesser
and Abe Burrows
Abe Burrows
(1962) Frank D. Gilroy (1965) Edward Albee
Edward Albee
(1967) Howard Sackler (1969) Charles Gordone (1970) Paul Zindel
Paul Zindel
(1971) Jason Miller (1973) Edward Albee
Edward Albee
(1975) Michael Bennett, Nicholas Dante, James Kirkwood Jr., Marvin Hamlisch and Edward Kleban (1976) Michael Cristofer
Michael Cristofer
(1977) Donald L. Coburn (1978) Sam Shepard
Sam Shepard
(1979) Lanford Wilson
Lanford Wilson
(1980) Beth Henley (1981) Charles Fuller (1982) Marsha Norman
Marsha Norman
(1983) David Mamet
David Mamet
(1984) James Lapine
James Lapine
and Stephen Sondheim
Stephen Sondheim
(1985) August Wilson
August Wilson
(1987) Alfred Uhry
Alfred Uhry
(1988) Wendy Wasserstein
Wendy Wasserstein
(1989) August Wilson
August Wilson
(1990) Neil Simon
Neil Simon
(1991) Robert Schenkkan
Robert Schenkkan
(1992) Tony Kushner
Tony Kushner
(1993) Edward Albee
Edward Albee
(1994) Horton Foote (1995) Jonathan Larson (1996) Paula Vogel
Paula Vogel
(1998) Margaret Edson (1999) Donald Margulies
Donald Margulies
(2000) David Auburn (2001) Suzan-Lori Parks
Suzan-Lori Parks
(2002) Nilo Cruz
Nilo Cruz
(2003) Doug Wright (2004) John Patrick Shanley
John Patrick Shanley
(2005) David Lindsay-Abaire (2007) Tracy Letts
Tracy Letts
(2008) Lynn Nottage
Lynn Nottage
(2009) Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey (2010) Bruce Norris (2011) Quiara Alegría Hudes (2012) Ayad Akhtar
Ayad Akhtar
(2013) Annie Baker
Annie Baker
(2014) Stephen Adly Guirgis (2015) Lin-Manuel Miranda
Lin-Manuel Miranda
(2016) Lynn Nottage
Lynn Nottage

v t e

Porgy and Bess


Novel Play Opera Film adaptation Catfish Row Porgy and Bess: A Symphonic Picture Porgy and Bess
Porgy and Bess
(Miles Davis album) Porgy and Bess
Porgy and Bess
(Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong album) Porgy and Bess
Porgy and Bess
(Harry Belafonte and Lena Horne album) Porgy and Bess
Porgy and Bess
(Sammy Davis Jr. and Carmen McRae album) Porgy and Bess
Porgy and Bess
(Oscar Peterson and Joe Pass album)


George Gershwin Ira Gershwin DuBose Heyward Dorothy Heyward


"Summertime" "My Man's Gone Now" "I Got Plenty o' Nuttin'" "Bess, You Is My Woman Now" "It Ain't Necessarily So" "I Loves You, Porgy"


Discography Selections from George Gershwin's Folk Opera
Porgy and Bess
Porgy and Bess
(1940 and 1942 albums) Porgy and Bess
Porgy and Bess
(1951 album) The Complete Porgy and Bess
Porgy and Bess
(1956 album) Porgy and Bess
Porgy and Bess
(1989 Glyndebourne album)

v t e

George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin, Guy Bolton
Guy Bolton
and Jack McGowan's Girl Crazy (1930)


Girl Crazy
Girl Crazy
(1932 film) Girl Crazy
Girl Crazy
(1943 film) When the Boys Meet the Girls (1965 film) Crazy for You (1992 musical)


1930 musical

"Bidin' My Time" "Embraceable You" "Sam and Delilah" "I Got Rhythm" "But Not For Me" "Treat Me Rough" "Boy! What Love Has Done To Me!"

1992 musical

"I Can't Be Bothered Now" "Things Are Looking Up" "Someone to Watch Over Me" "Slap That Bass" "The Real American Folk Song is a Rag" "Stiff Upper Lip" "They Can't Take That Away from Me" "Nice Work If You Can Get It"


"You've Got What Gets Me" Variations on "I Got Rhythm"

v t e

George and Ira Gershwin
Ira Gershwin
musicals, operas and films


A Dangerous Maid Primrose Lady, Be Good! Tell Me More Tip-Toes Song of the Flame Oh, Kay! Strike Up the Band Funny Face Rosalie Treasure Girl Show Girl Girl Crazy Delicious (film) Of Thee I Sing Pardon My English Let 'Em Eat Cake Porgy and Bess Shall We Dance (film) A Damsel in Distress (film) The Goldwyn Follies
The Goldwyn Follies
(film) The Shocking Miss Pilgrim
The Shocking Miss Pilgrim


La La Lucille Morris Gest Midnight Whirl George White's Scandals
George White's Scandals
(1920–1924, including Blue Monday) Our Nell The Rainbow Sweet Little Devil


Two Little Girls in Blue Be Yourself That's a Good Girl Life Begins at 8:40 Ziegfeld Follies of 1936 Lady in the Dark The North Star (film) Cover Girl (film) The Firebrand of Florence Where Do We Go from Here? (film) Park Avenue The Barkleys of Broadway
The Barkleys of Broadway
(film) A Star Is Born (film) The Country Girl (film)


Rhapsody in Blue
Rhapsody in Blue
(film) An American in Paris
An American in Paris
(film) My One and Only (musical) Crazy for You Nice Work If You Can Get It An American in Paris
An American in Paris
(musical) A Damsel In Distress (musical)

v t e

George Gershwin


Gershwin Plays Gershwin: The Piano Rolls


An American in Paris Gershwin Piano Concerto Three Preludes Who Cares?

List of stagings


Blue Monday (1922) Porgy and Bess
Porgy and Bess

Orchestral works

Rhapsody in Blue
Rhapsody in Blue
(1924) Concerto in F (1925) An American in Paris
An American in Paris
(1928) Second Rhapsody (1931) Cuban Overture (1932) Strike Up the Band (1934) Hoctor's Ballet (1937)

Piano compositions

Three Preludes (1926) French Ballet Class (1937)


"Aren't You Kind Of Glad We Did?" "(I've Got) Beginner's Luck" "Bidin' My Time" "Blah Blah Blah" "Boy Wanted" "Boy! What Love Has Done To Me!" "But Not for Me" "By Strauss" "Clap Yo' Hands" "Do It Again" "Doin' Time" "Embraceable You" "Fascinating Rhythm" "A Foggy Day" "For You, For Me, For Evermore" "Funny Face" "'The Half of It, Dearie' Blues" "He Loves and She Loves" "How Long Has This Been Going On?" "I Can't Be Bothered Now" "I Got Rhythm" "I Was Doing All Right" "I've Got a Crush on You" "Isn't It a Pity?" "Just Another Rhumba" "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" "Let's Kiss and Make Up" "Liza (All the Clouds'll Roll Away)" "Looking for a Boy" "Lorelei" "Love Is Here to Stay" "Love is Sweeping the Country" "Love Walked In" "The Man I Love" "My Cousin in Milwaukee" "My One and Only" "Nice Work If You Can Get It" "Of Thee I Sing" "Oh, Lady Be Good!" "Oh, So Nice!" "The Real American Folk Song (is a Rag)" "'S Wonderful" "Sam and Delilah" "Slap That Bass" "Somebody from Somewhere" "Somebody Loves Me" "Someone to Watch Over Me" "Soon" "Stairway to Paradise" "Stiff Upper Lip" "Strike Up the Band" "Summertime" "Swanee" "That Certain Feeling" "They All Laughed" "They Can't Take That Away from Me" "Things Are Looking Up" "Tra-la-la" "Treat Me Rough" "Walking the Dog" "Who Cares?" "You've Got What Gets Me"

Tribute albums

Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin By George Ella Fitzgerald Sings the George and Ira Gershwin
Ira Gershwin
Song Book Ella Sings Gershwin Gershwin Live! Gershwin's World The Glory of Gershwin Ira, George and Joe Nice Work If You Can Get It Oscar Peterson Plays the George Gershwin
George Gershwin
Songbook Red Hot + Rhapsody: The Gershwin Groove Rosemary Clooney
Rosemary Clooney
Sings the Lyrics of Ira Gershwin

Related articles

Gershwin Prize Ira Gershwin
Ira Gershwin
(brother) Arthur Gershwin (brother) Frances Gershwin
Frances Gershwin
(sister) Gershwin Theatre

List of compositions by George Gershwin
George Gershwin
Category:George Gershwin

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 39519496 LCCN: n50076010 ISNI: 0000 0001 0890 1469 GND: 119500027 SELIBR: 242232 SUDOC: 035530928 BNF: cb13194929s (data) MusicBrainz: 509086c2-9cc8-4e77-89e9-322e34240ffc NDL: 001170857 BNE: XX852333 CiNii: DA03476


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