The “American” Sound: Indigenous Influences Need Not Apply

By the early twentieth century, the United States was arguably best-known for being a “melting pot”: Its citizens had come from all over the world. It was also, in the grand scheme of human history, a country still in its infancy. Most national aesthetic identities have been cultivated over the course of millennia, or at…

Recognizing the True American Identity

Nationalistic music is very common and valuable to countries all around the world. For many, this type of music brings about pride, joy, memories and a sense of belonging. Composers have been writing in the style of their country for many years, establishing particular sounds, rhythms and tonality.  In the “New World”, America seemed to…

The “American” Sound

After reading a comprehensive summary and analysis of Bernstein’s senior thesis by Geoffrey Block, it is clear that Bernstein felt that American music owed much of its influence and distinctive sound to African American music, specifically in the way of jazz. Bernstein seems to think that American music influence can be condensed to white and…

The Controversial Opera

The Controversial Opera An opera composed by a Jewish songwriter, adapted from a novel “porgy” by a white novelist that narrates the tale of Southern blacks and performed on a Broadway and opera stage could not be more controversial. The composer’s interest in spirituals and folksongs make Porgy and Bess the Magnus Opus ever composed…

Bess: The Loose Woman

Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess has been subjected to much musicological study, criticism, and praise. The prevailing argument among those who extoll the opera is that, at the very heart of the production, lies a compelling and relatable story with complex, realistic characters. Perusing through the multitude of musicological sources on this Gershwin opera, Bess seems…

Perception in the Eyes of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess

  Perception in the Eyes of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess In 1935, the release of Gershwin’s first opera brought many surprises to the classical music world. Written in a century of change, this opera would open, or close, the minds and eyes of all those who encountered it. Not only was this opera written in…

A Finale Without Finality

After reading a detailed synopsis of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, I was immediately struck by the story’s ending. After learning that Bess has gone to New York with Sportin’ Life, Porgy is determined to find her and bring her back to Catfish Row. He orders a goat cart and prays, stating that he trusts god to…

Gershwin’s compositional style

Gershwin’s Compositional Style Born in Brooklyn to an immigrant parent from Russia, George Gershwin began his musical journey at an early age. His love for music led him to drop out of school to work for Jerome H. Remick & Co, a music publishing firm on Tin Pan Alley. Gershwin composed his first major work,…

The Necessity of Inclusion in Perspectives on Race in “Porgy and Bess”

In chapter six of his book George Gershwin, Larry Starr discusses the innumerable components of the 1935 opera Porgy and Bess that make it such a bold, brilliant, and provocative work. Chief among these components is that the opera calls for an all-black cast of characters — an unprecedented phenomenon. In the year of Porgy…

Gershwin and 20th Century Change

  George Gershwin lived in a century that brought change to the world of classical music. Whether or not this change was accepted, the American composer created new and bold music that would go against the standards set in pervious music eras. One of his works, in particular, with Ira Gershwin and other broadway novices,…