Close up view of piano keys.

Who Could Ask for Anything More?

The Gershwin brothers arrive at U-M

In partnership with the Gershwin family, the Victors for Michigan campaign has brought a treasured piece of American music history to U-M.

Together, the Gershwin brothers created some of the most inventive and beloved music of the 20th century. George Gershwin had an unrivaled ability to draw on classical and popular genres to forge his own eclectic rhythms and soaring melodies, finding outlets in opera and cinema alike. Ira Gershwin was a wordsmith, whose unique gifts delighted listeners with witty and profoundly humanizing lyrics. The brothers played an integral role in shaping America’s rich musical history, both individually and collaboratively. Their works include An American in Paris—adapted for Broadway in 2015—and the beloved opera Porgy and Bess.

Gill performing on George Gershwin's 1933 Steinway.
U-M student Gil Scott Chapman (BFA ’13, MMus ’16) performs on George Gershwin’s 1933 Steinway.

For decades, the Gershwin’s work suffered from minimal scholarly editing, rendering many works with notational errors and inconsistencies that had never been addressed. A lack of critical scholarship inhibited the accuracy of scores, and it remained to be seen whether or not this chapter of treasured musical history would ever be critically written. But that’s no longer a concern, thanks to the generous contributions of the Gershwin family. Initiated by George and Ira’s nephew Marc G. Gershwin and grandnephew Todd Gershwin (AB ’97), a complete critical edition of the Gershwins’ creative work is now underway. Headed by U-M Associate Professor of Musicology Mark Clague, the project draws from private papers, compositional drafts, and original scores by the Gershwin brothers spanning an estimated 10 volumes. This final, critical edition will be a treasure trove for interested listeners and scholars alike.

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Interested in learning more about the Gershwin Initiative? Visit smtd.umich.edu/ami/gershwin.

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