Donald Macleod explores the life and music of George Gershwin.

When a second-hand piano was hoisted through the window of the Gershwin family’s Lower East Side apartment, a window was quite literally opened onto a new world. Donald begins by looking at Gershwin’s early and lifelong love of the instrument. For many, he was the foremost composer of the "jazz age" and it's through jazz-inflected interpretations that his music has reached its widest audience. Next, Donald tells the story of Gershwin's excursions in the concert hall. He may have been the toast of Broadway, but his attempts to move musically out of the theatre district and into the hallowed portals of the city’s concert halls were, despite some successes, constantly frustrated and a source of disappointment to him. To end, Donald charts George Gershwin's final years, partly spent in a ramshackle beach cottage on Folly Island in South Carolina. His memorable musical experiences with the local Gullah people eventually inspired his magnum opus, the opera Porgy and Bess.

Music featured: Summertime That Certain Feeling Three Preludes Piano Concerto in F Has Anyone Seen Joe The Real American Folk Song Fascinating Rhythm Embraceable You I Got Rhythm I Got Rhythm Variations Someone to Watch Over Me Rhapsody in Blue Second Rhapsody American in Paris Strike Up the Band Overture Cuban Overture My Man's Gone Now I Got Plenty of Nothin' Bess, You Is My Woman Now It Ain’t Necessarily So I Loves You Porgy Catfish Row Suite

Presented by Donald Macleod Produced by Martin Williams

For full tracklistings, including artist and recording details, and to listen to the pieces featured in full (for 30 days after broadcast) head to the series page for George Gershwin:

And you can delve into the A-Z of all the composers we’ve featured on Composer of the Week here: